Scarlett: How come my noodles are never so firm & separate? They always end up in a soggy, gloopy mass :(
Possibly because you don't have a spouse who walked out of the house when you served her soggy noodles. The next day I went to a thelawallah (noodle cart guy) outside my office at Nariman Point where I used to work then. The guys at the cart in their vests and loongis (Indian sarongs) were perplexed to see the earnest thin young executive in white pinstripes and black trousers come up to them and ask them about the secret to firm noodles. Well, whatever they said worked. Noodles never turned out to be soggy after that. There were no more noodle related walkouts.
The trick is to put the noodles in boiling water and take them out the moment the moment the noodles lose their stiffness. You can check this with a fork. Err on the side of being uncooked to be on the safe side. Noodles shouldn't be in the boiling water for more than 2-3 minutes
Post draining, rinse under cold water and add a bit of oil to make it foolproof and separate with a fork. I don't add oil at this stage though.
@MonikaManchanda was tweeting today on cooking tips. Check for the hashtag #CookingTips Or go to her blog post on Sin-A-Mon. There is a tip on pasta which is on similar lines. Pasta will take more time than noodles of course.