MAI FUN (MI FEN)
“Rice is the most important starch in the Asian diet, except in China’s most northern regions (where wheat is historically dominant). In China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia and India, for example, rice has always been regarded as the main dish, and everything else — including meats, seafood and vegetables — are accompaniments. In China, when the cook calls you to the table, he or she says “chi fen”, which literally means “eat rice” — simply an expression for “let’s eat”. Rice is predominantly eaten as a boiled grain, to be sure, but rice noodles are very much part of the Asian diet as well.” Corinne Trang, Noodles Every Day
Mai fun is the Cantonese name for thin rice noodles known in the United States as rice sticks or rice vermicelli (In Mandarin, the noodles are called mi fen). In Chinese, fun or fen refer to noodles made of rice, mung bean starch, or any other starch, all traditional in southern China. Noodles made from wheat, typical of northern China, are called mian, mien or mein.
Before cooking, dried rice noodles should be soaked in room temperature or cold or tepid water for about 30 minutes, or until they are pliable (Don’t use hot water; it will soften them too much and they won’t cook evenly). After soaking, dried rice noodles should be boiled briefly, sometimes for only a few seconds. If you’re using them in a soup, do not add them directly to the broth or it will become cloudy. Once boiled, nestle them in a soup bowl and ladle the broth in top.