Rice-flour noodles, also called rice sticks or rice vermicelli, may be either deep-fried or soaked but should never be boiled. Look for the noodles, often labeled maifun , in Asian markets.
The noodles come in a variety of thicknesses and are usually sold in packages weighing about 14 ounces. Often the noodles are divided into skeins.
Rice noodles are deep-fried without soaking. Pour oil about three inches deep into a wok and heat to 400 degrees. Test the temperature by dropping a strand of noodle into the oil; it should puff almost immediately.
While the oil heats, break the noodles into pieces about three inches long (Step 1). Loosen the noodles slightly by gently pulling them apart.
Place one portion of noodles on a Chinese skimmer and lower into the hot oil (Step 2). Within a couple seconds the noodles will puff (Step 3).
If the oil is deep enough, the noodles should cook evenly without turning, but when in doubt, use the skimmer and a spoon to turn. Remove the noodles as soon as they stop crackling (Step 4) and drain on paper towels.
The most common use for the crisp white noodles is in Chinese chicken salad. They are also the basis for the Thai dish mee krob.
To use the noodles in soups or stir-fried dishes, soak the noodles first. Place the noodles in warm water until they are tender and slippery, about 10 minutes. Drain the noodles and then cook as you like.