Vermicelli (Italian: [vermiˈtʃɛlli]; lit.'little worms', /ˌvɜːrmɪˈɛli, -ˈsɛli/,[1][2][3] also UK: /ˌvɛərmɪˈɛli/,[4] ) is a traditional type of pasta round in section similar to spaghetti. In English-speaking regions it is usually thinner than spaghetti,[5] while in Italy it is typically thicker.[6][7]


The term "vermicelli" is also used to describe various types of thin noodles from Asia. In Vietnam vermicelli is the same as angel hair pasta or capellini.

Thickness comparison Edit

As defined in Italy:

Pasta name Thickness
Vermicelli diameter between 2.08 and 2.30 millimetres (0.082 and 0.091 in) with little variation between different producers.[8][9]
Spaghetti diameter between 1.92 and 2.00 millimetres (0.076 and 0.079 in)[10]
Vermicellini ([vermitʃelˈliːni], "thin vermicelli") diameter between 1.75 and 1.80 millimetres (0.069 and 0.071 in)[11]
Fedelini diameter between 1.37 and 1.47 millimetres (0.054 and 0.058 in)[12]
Capellini (or capelli d'angelo—angel's hair) diameter between 0.8 and 0.9 millimetres (0.031 and 0.035 in)[13][14]

In the United States, the National Pasta Association (which has no links with its Italian counterpart, the Unione Industriali Pastai Italiani[15]) lists vermicelli as a thinner type of spaghetti.[16]

The Code of Federal Regulations of the United States of America[17] defines spaghetti and vermicelli by diameter:

Pasta name Thickness
Vermicelli diameter less than 0.06 inches (1.5 mm).
Spaghetti diameter between 0.06 and 0.11 inches (1.5 and 2.8 mm)

History Edit

Vermicelli with a lemon-pecorino fonduta with fennel fronds and bottarga

In 14th-century Italy, long pasta shapes had varying local names. Barnabas de Reatinis of Reggio notes in his Compendium de naturis et proprietatibus alimentorum (1338) that the Tuscan vermicelli are called orati in Bologna, minutelli in Venice, fermentini in Reggio, and pancardelle in Mantua.[18]

The first mention of a vermicelli recipe is in the book De arte Coquinaria per vermicelli e maccaroni siciliani (The Art of Cooking Sicilian Macaroni and Vermicelli), compiled by the famous Maestro Martino da Como, unequalled in his field at the time and perhaps the first "celebrity chef", who was the chef at the Roman palazzo of the papal chamberlain ("camerlengo"), the Patriarch of Aquileia. In Martino's Libro de arte coquinaria, there are several recipes for vermicelli, which can last two or three years (doi o tre anni) when dried in the sun.[19]

Vermicelli in other countries Edit

Middle East and East Africa Edit

Vermicelli, called "shaʿīriyya" (شعيرية) in Arabic, is used in one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Egypt and the Levant. The vermicelli is browned by frying with oil or butter, then rice and water are added.

In Somalia, it is used in a sweet dish called "cadriyad", originating from the Yemeni ʿaṭriyah (عطرية). The vermicelli is browned by frying with butter, then water, sugar, and cardamom are added until it has softened slightly. The dish is similar to the Indian Sheer khurma. However, no milk or cream is added. Bananas can also be added on top. It is usually eaten as a dessert or as a side-dish with Somali spiced rice dishes.

Cadriyad is also a common dessert in certain parts of Ethiopia, particularly in the Arab-influenced Harar-ghe region, where it is known as attriya and is served cold, often with a thin layer of custard on top.

Iberia Edit

An aletria pudding with typical cinnamon decoration

Possibly due to the Umayyad influence,[20] Spain and Portugal use a type of vermicelli called "aletria". It is mostly used for soups or desserts. In modern-day Portugal, aletria usually refers to a dessert similar to a rice pudding, but replacing the rice with aletria.

The Americas Edit

Vermicelli (fideo)

The fideo is a type of noodle, produced in Europe since medieval times, best known as fideus or fidelis, which spread to Mexican and Latin American cuisine, and is often referred to by speakers of English as vermicelli. It is commonly used in chicken soup and in sopa seca, a type of side dish.

Indian subcontinent Edit

A bowl of shemai, which is a popular dessert in Bangladesh
Salted vegetable vermicelli in North India

In countries of the Indian subcontinent, vermicelli is available either as long strands or cut into about 2 cm long pieces. Vermicelli is known by various local names such as, Sewiyun in Sindhi, Semya in Telugu, sémiya when made with wheat & sevai when made with rice in Tamil, Semiya in Malayalam, shavige in Kannada, Sewoi in Assamese, shemai in Bengali, seviyan in Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi, shevaya in Marathi, simei in Odia, sev in Gujarati, and semige in Tulu. The noodles are used in a number of dishes including a variation of kheer, a sweet dessert similar to rice pudding. Vermicelli are also used in many parts of India to make a popular dish called "upma". To prepare it, dry oil-roasted vermicelli and pre-sauteed vegetables such as onions, carrots, French-beans, peas, etc. are cooked together with enough water that can be absorbed by the vermicelli. Roasted cashew or peanuts are used as garnish.

Other noodles called vermicelli Edit

In English, the Italian loanword "vermicelli" is used to indicate different sorts of long pasta shapes from different parts of the world but mostly from South or East Asia.

Central Asian Kesme and Persian reshteh also resemble vermicelli. Fālūde or faloodeh is a Persian frozen dessert made with thin vermicelli noodles frozen with corn starch, rose water, lime juice, and often ground pistachios.

In East and Southeast Asia, the term "vermicelli" is used to translate four different types of noodles. Rice vermicelli can refer to a thin dried type of rice noodle (Chinese: 米粉, pinyin: mǐfěn; Hokkien: bee hoon; Cantonese: mai fun; Thai: sen mi เส้นหมี่; Burmese: kya zan ၾကာဆံ). A second type of vermicelli is made from rice that has been fermented (Chinese: 米線; pinyin: mǐxiàn; Thai: khanom chin ขนมจีน; Vietnamese: bún). The latter are normally eaten fresh, rather than after drying. Thirdly, vermicelli sometimes indicates cellophane noodles made from mung bean or sweet potato flour (traditional Chinese: 粉絲, pinyin: fěnsī; Thai: wun sen วุ้นเส้น). Cellophane noodles turn translucent after cooking, whereas rice vermicelli remain opaque. The fourth type of vermicelli are made from wheat rather than rice flour, misua (Chinese: 麵線; pinyin: miànxiàn; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: mī-sòan).

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ "vermicelli". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). HarperCollins. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  2. ^ "Vermicelli". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  3. ^ "vermicelli". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  4. ^ "vermicelli". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 5 March 2020.
  5. ^ Dictionary.Com. "Vermicelli". Random House Diciontary. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
  6. ^ "Vermicelli Voiello". Voiello (in Italian). Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  7. ^ "Vermicelli n° 170". Pasta De Cecco (in Italian). Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  8. ^ "Vermicelli Barilla". Retrieved 3 August 2011.
  9. ^ "Vermicelli DeCecco". Retrieved 3 August 2011.
  10. ^ "Spaghetti". Archived from the original on 8 July 2015. Retrieved 15 September 2011.
  11. ^ "Vermicellini DeCecco". Retrieved 3 August 2011.
  12. ^ "Fidelini DeCecco USA". Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 3 August 2011.
  13. ^ "Capellini DeCecco USA". Archived from the original on 16 June 2013. Retrieved 3 August 2011.
  14. ^ "Capellini Barilla USA". Retrieved 3 August 2011.
  15. ^ "UNIPI - Unione Nazionale Industriali Pastai Italiani". Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  16. ^ "Pasta shapes". Archived from the original on 3 September 2011. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  17. ^ 21 CFR 139.110
  18. ^ Cristina, Ortolani (2006). L'Italia della pasta (in Latin). Touring. ISBN 978-88-365-2933-9.
  19. ^ "Libro de Arte Coquinaria Composto per lo Egregio Maestro Martino Coquo Olim del Reverendissimo Monsignor Camorlengo et Patriarcha de Aquileia". Retrieved 3 August 2011.
  20. ^ Andrew, Colman (3 December 2005). Catalan Cuisine: Vivid Flavors from Spain's Mediterranean Coast. ISBN 9781558323292.