Liang fen 涼粉 is a jelly noodles made with starch and water. Starch and water is cooked to a thick custard, set and chilled. It is then cut into whatever shape and size you like then dressed in a Sichaun spicy sauce with some spring onion, coriander and few sesame seeds etc...
If you like rice noodles you will love liang fen. This jelly noodles is much springier and better texture than rice noodle.
Liang fen can be made with various starch. The best is mung bean starch and second I would recommend wheat starch (tang mien 澄麵 or tang fen 澄粉 in Cantonese). Tapioca starch is too chewy and conflour (cornstarch) is too soft. There are liang fen made with ground peas/beans, such as yellow or green split peas and fresh mung beans.
Mung bean starch 綠豆澱粉 is not easy to find in UK. I bought mine from a Thai supermarket packet looks like this below. Do not confuse mung bean flour (ground whole bean) and mung bean starch. The starch is white like cornflour, the ground flour is light olive green. If you shop online in UK, you can get this starch from Raan Thai. You may also find mung bean starch in some Korean supermarkets. Other name is green bean starch. In Malaysia and Indonesia you may come across Hun Kwee flour which is also mung bean starch but do look for one without added colour and fragrance.
To make the liang fen it is very easy. All you need is starch, water and small pinch of salt. Starch to water ratio is 1 : 5 for a firmer texture which can be easily cut into fine noodles. If you like a softer more jelly like texture increase the water to 6 parts. Always use the same cup to measure the starch and water. Put starch into the cup loosely. A little starch will make quite a lot of this jelly noodles.
For this recipe I used 1/2 cup starch to 2.5 cups water and small pinch of salt. 1/2 cup of starch will make enough liang fen for 2 - 3 people. The texture is firm and can be easily cut into very fine noodles.
Mix starch with equal qty of water i.e. 1:1 set aside.
Boil some water in a kettle. When boiling measure 4 parts of water (i.e. 2 cups water for 1/2 cup of starch). If you like a softer jelly noodles add another 1/2 cup boiling water to a total of 6 parts including the 1 part mixed with starch. Put boiling water in a saucepan, add salt. Bring this water to a boil.
Stir in the premixed starch liquid while stirring. Simmer gently
The mixture will thicken very quickly. When translucent like this below. Remove from heat.
Scrape the mixture into a greased container. I used a plastic tub. Smoothen the surface, cover and leave to cool then chill in the fridge. When cooled the starch jelly will set to a block. Will keep in the fridge for a day or two.
When ready to eat, cut liang fen into fine noodles or thicker strips. You can also grate it with a very coarse cheese grater or vegetable mandoline.
To make the noodle salad, you need:
Cut liang fen (jelly noodles)
Some bean sprouts and/or cucumber
Some chopped corinder (cilantro)
Some roasted sesame seeds
few drops of sesame oil
some finely chopped or minced garlic
some Chinkiang black rice vinegar
sugar and spice soy sauce (see previous post for recipe) or plain soy sauce
a little chilli powder or ground sichuan pepper (optional)
Put rinsed beanspouts in a bowl. Pour in some boiling water, leave it for a minute then drain.
If using cucumber cut into fine shreds
Put jelly noodles in a serving bowl.
Sprinkle on beanspouts, cucumber, chopped spring onion, coriander, garlic and sesame seeds.
Drizzle on some chilli oil, sesame oil, sugar and spice infused soy sauce (or plain soy sauce), some black vinegar.
Finally some chilli powder and/or ground Sichuan pepper (if preferred)
Mix and toss.
Other than the above suggestion you can mix and match any dressings and vegetables you like.
Sesame paste dressing is also very nice.
For a more pungent dressing add some fried fermented black beans in garlic oil or buy prepared black bean and chilli in oil 老干妈豆豉酱 lao gan ma dou chi jiang
Crispy fried garlic can replace fresh chopped garlic