Guest Post: Cold Mung Bean Noodles
Through the blogging world, I got to know many talented food bloggers. Xiaolu from 6 Bittersweets is one of them! A while ago, I stumbled upon her blog, her food look absolutely delicious and the photos are just pretty! By looking at them just make my mouth water! Blogging is just fantastic! Today, I am glad that Xiaolu is on my blog to share with us a very special dish, which I instantly want to taste and give it a go! Please welcome Xiaolu!
Years ago when I first stumbled upon Leemei’s blog, My Cooking Hut, I was blown away by the gorgeous photography and mouthwatering French and Asian recipes. Naturally I’ve been a dedicated follower ever since. You can imagine then how surprised and excited I was to receive her recent invitation to prepare a guest post. Immediately I thought to share a recently rediscovered favorite from my childhood in China: Liang Fen 凉粉 (Cold Mung Bean Noodles). Thank you so much, Leemei, for letting me contribute to your lovely blog!
After emigrating from China to the United States at the age of 6, I retained few memories of my early years in China. But there was one exception. I recalled every bit of the delicious food, from stinky tofu to deep-fried ginger lotus root balls to cold noodles with an addictive spicy sauce. The vibrant tastes and textures of authentic Chinese food thankfully remained clear in my mind no matter how many bad experiences I had with Americanized “Chinese” food. Now that I’ve grown up to cook for myself and Asian ingredients are more available around the world, I’m delighted to recreate this refreshing noodle dish for you.
Liang fen is a dish especially popular in Northern China during the summertime. Although I translate it as “noodles,” it’s really a chilled jelly made from mung bean starch that’s sliced into noodle-like strips. Right before serving, the strips are tossed with a spicy sauce.
Depending on the region in China, this sauce may include soy sauce, vinegar, minced garlic and ginger, ground Szechuan peppercorn, sesame paste, chili oil, daikon radish, and peanuts. The noodles themselves have only a mild flavor. But their cool temperature and slippery texture make them the perfect match for a spicy sauce that even makes your tongue tingle, thanks to the Szechuan peppercorn. All combined, these components make for a fun, flavorful eating experience. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we do!
XIAOLU’S NOTES: Please note the uncut jelly needs to chill for several hours and plan accordingly. You can make the jelly up to 1 day ahead. The Szechuan pepper oil will keep, covered and chilled, for 3 months. Bring to room temperature before using.
For the Guest Post: Cold Mung Bean Noodles:
2 3/4 cups water
1/2 cup mung bean starch powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese black vinegar (preferably Chinkiang)
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp Szechuan pepper oil, or to taste (Recipe below)
1 tsp red chili oil, or to taste
1 tsp finely grated or minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 tsp finely grated or minced garlic
1/2 tsp finely chopped fermented black beans (rinse well first)
3 large scallions (white and pale green parts only), cut into very thin shreds
Chopped green scallions, to garnish
Szechuan Pepper Oil:
2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil
To prepare the jelly: oil an 8-inch square baking pan. Mix together the water, mung bean starch, and salt until completely smooth, then bring it to a boil in a 2 to 3-quart heavy saucepan. Continue to boil over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is very thick and translucent, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the oiled baking pan and cool to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Cover surface with plastic wrap and chill until jelly is firm, about 2 hours.
To prepare the sauce: stir together soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, oils, ginger, garlic, and black beans in a large bowl until sugar is dissolved.
To assemble the dish: run a thin knife around the side of the pan to loosen the jelly, then unmold onto a cutting board. Cut jelly into 3 strips, then cut each strip crosswise into 1/4″ slices. Carefully transfer to sauce in serving bowl or dish, then gently stir in scallions. Garnish with more scallions, if desired, and serve with more Szechuan pepper oil and red chili oil on the side. Serve IMMEDIATELY. The noodles are best when the sauce coats but does not soak into the noodles so leftovers are not recommended.
To make Szechuan Pepper Oil: grind peppercorns coarsely in an electric grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Heat oil with peppercorns in a 1 to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, swirling pan occasionally, until peppercorns turn a shade darker, about 1 minute, then transfer to a heatproof bowl and cool to room temperature. Stir before using.
I love the numbing, spicy flavors of this dish. Xiaolu has a great presentation here. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks so much — I'm glad you enjoyed it!
I think I've seen similar noodles in Asian grocery stores – I'm fortunate in that I live near Chinatown where the store keepers and restaurant owners cater to an Asian clientele and thus the food is more authentic – but I've never tried them. The dish sounds delicious, with the garlic and chili oil offering a unique contrast to the silky texture of the noodles..
Oh that's awesome that you have the ready-made version accessible to you. Please do give them a try. The taste will have you hooked :).
I'm drooling as I look at this – I had this in China on a recent trip…..was so refreshing and addictive!
You're reallly good at food styling and the photos are amazing too!
Def going to bookmark this to make soon!
I'm so glad you were able to try the most authentic version of this. Thanks so much for your kind words!
Very interesting! I wonder if I can get mungbean starch here…otherwise, I'll just make the chilli and eat with the normal noodles..I am sure will be good with spagetti too!
Wow very interesting recipe. I've never had this before! Great guest post!
So says Liang Fen is plain and bland? The sauce and generous green onions complement it so so well 😀
Hopefully you can find it. But if not what a great idea to try this sauce on other noodles. I'd love to hear if that works well :).
I love these "noodles," their flavor and texture! I'm so glad you shared this memory and dish, Xiaolu!
Nice to see Xiaolu introduce the mung bean noodle here. 🙂
It looks absolutely delicious.
Xiaolu, this looks delicous…! And great photography too :)!
I love Xiaolu's blog … her photos are stunning! And so are the photos on this post. I'm not familiar with liang fen but her photos is surely tempting me =)
I've never heard (or tried) liang fen before, but they look absolutely scrumptious. Will have to try this out one day!
Thanks for the sweet words, you guys!
Nice, Xiaolu! As you know, I always read 6 Bittersweets but now you have introduced me to mycookinghut as well. And this recipe is super cool. It is one of those things where some version of it could be on the menu at Alinea, and yet it is probably 1000 years old.
Is this the same as the black Liang Fen? I always thought 凉粉 to the black grass jelly we have with soy bean. The recipe looks interesting. Stunning photographs as always!
Thanks, Ellie! I don't think this is the same as the black Liang Fen, which I've never heard of. Now I'm curious about the version you mention and will have to look it up. 🙂
I love Xiaolu and 6 Bittersweets and am so pleased to have found your blog through her guest post!
I'm new to these noodles. They look like steamed rice roll to me from the first glance, Looks so appetizing to have this cold dish during summer. Lee Mei, Thanks for introducing Xiaolu of 6 Bittersweets! Both of you have excellent photography skills! Love it! 😉
Ooh I haven't had liang fen for AGES! When the weather finally heats up over here I'll have to make this 🙂
I appreciate the support, everyone! I'm delighted to have introduced some of you to Leemei's blog as the photography, recipes, and writing are all fantastic. Thanks, again, Leemei for this awesome experience XD.
This looks amazing. Great job–I wish I could take a bite right now!
A very beautiful and stylish dish Xiaolu !
Thanks very much to both of you for this wonderful post. I love this dish. A Chinese friend cooked this for me recently. When she saw that I liked it very much, she gave me a packet of the flour to make…..so sweet of her. Thanks very much for dropping by while I was away. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.
I just stumbed across your site and it is wonderful. I make a lot of asian food so thanks for some great ideas.
Gorgeous recipe, beautiful photos! Just lovely. Food memory recipes make me so happy 🙂
I have tried this recipe and it is absolutely delicious. My whole family loves it.
I love the taste, dressing is very nice, this is my favourite noodle.