Versatile Vermicelli: A Closer Look At The Skinny Pasta

by Simona Terron

We’ve all got our own cherished memories of our favorite pasta. For some it may be penne slathered in tomato sauce, while others love their elbow macaroni in their mac and cheese. There are even those who create pasta out of vegetables using a spiralizer, or who cannot do without their gluten-free pasta made from corn, buckwheat, quinoa or potato.

But if there’s one kind of pasta that’s universally loved and cooked regularly, it would be vermicelli. Called by different names around the world, this pasta is usually skinny, long like noodles, and can be made from a variety of ingredients including wheat, rice and mung bean.

Let’s take a look at the many ways in which it features in global cuisine:

  • In Italy, there are different names for vermicelli depending on which region you’re eating it in. But basically, it means ‘little worms’ in Italian. Not very appetizing!
  • In Asia, vermicelli is cooked in many different ways, with preparations that range from hearty and savory breakfast dishes to milky sweet desserts. Indians enjoy it a bunch of delicious ways: as upma, where it is tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves after being cooked with assorted vegetables, or as kheer, where it is boiled in sweetened milk, and garnished with nuts and dried fruit.
  • Most famously, the Chinese, Thai, Burmese, Vietnamese, Burmese and Japanese all use different kinds of vermicelli to achieve a variety of textures and flavors in their dishes.
  • The Persian frozen dessert faloodeh uses thin vermicelli noodles along with corn starch, rose water, a splash of lime juice and ground pistachios.
  • Mexicans and Latin American people use vermicelli in their chicken soup and a kind of side dish called sopa seca.
  • In Egypt, it is commonly used to cook rice, while in Somalia, it is made into a sweet dish that’s similar to the Indian kheer except it doesn’t use any dairy products.

Low in calories and easy to prepare, vermicelli is also quick to cook; the wheat and rice variety taking mere minutes to boil in water, while the mung bean type needs to be soaked in hot water for just a couple of minutes. Ideal as a snack or part of a wholesome meal, perhaps it’s time to introduce vermicelli into your cooking right away.

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