Stroll down any busy street in Vietnam and you see vendors selling steamy, fragrant pho, which is both breakfast and comfort food. The savory broth -- pronounced “fuh” – contains thinly sliced meat, fresh native vegetables and tender rice noodles. While many Vietnamese cooks use fresh noodles, most rice stick noodles available in Western markets are dried. How you cook the dried noodles depends on how you want to use them. Rice stick noodles can be soaked in hot water for use in soups and stir-fries or boiled briefly for use in cold noodle salads.
Fill a pot two-thirds full of water.
Bring the water to a full rolling boil over high heat.
Place the noodles in the boiling water, being careful not to splash yourself. Remove the pot from the heat immediately if you intend to soak them.
Separate the noodles from each other by stirring them with a pasta spoon or locking tongs because rice-stick noodles tend to stick to each other.
Soak the noodles for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are tender. If you are boiling them, cook them for 3 to 5 minutes, or whatever time is specified on the package, stirring them frequently. Rice stick noodles are done when they are limp and tender. The traditional test is to wind one around your finger after rinsing it in cool water. If it bends without breaking, the noodles are done.
Drain the noodles in a colander. Rinse them with cool water to use them in a cold salad. Toss them lightly with oil or add them to soup or stir-fry.