Sunday, 19 June 2011

Sichuan liang fen 川味涼粉 (Starch jelly noodles)


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:


Ingredients:
Cut liang fen (jelly noodles)
Some bean sprouts and/or cucumber
Some chopped corinder (cilantro)
Some roasted sesame seeds
Chilli oil
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)

Method:
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.
Enjoy.

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

9 comments:

  1. Sunflower,
    I wonder if this is the same starch as tepung hunkwee which we use to make cendol in Indonesia.

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  2. Hi Tuty
    Yes tepung hunkwee is mung bean starch or we called it cendol flour, normally wrapped in paper in a small log. You need to look for the natural/white and non fragrant type.

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  3. Ooh, this looks great. Do you know if it would work with sweet potato starch?

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. Hi Kake
    If you can find the greyish sweet potato starch it is very good and make very springy jelly noodles. Plain potato starch is ok but not as springy as mung bean starch.

    Let me know if where you found sweet potato starch.

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  6. What I have is more white than greyish, but it was definitely labelled as being sweet potato starch. I got it from my local Vietnamese supermarket when I was experimenting with oyster omelettes, and I still have loads left. Anyway, I've had a go at making it into liang fen and it's chilling now! I'll let you know how it turns out.

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  7. Just wanted to give a quick update on my efforts at this with sweet potato starch. I've tried it three times now; the first time I learned that 30 seconds isn't enough cooking time (90 seconds seems enough), the second time I learned that 35g starch to 350ml total water isn't enough starch, and the third time I learned that 50g starch to 350ml water is _probably_ enough starch, though the noodles still broke quite easily. I'll try upping the starch again next time to see how that turns out.

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  8. Hi Kake
    I have not tried with other starch yet. I made some with green split pea the other day it was a bit soft and taste quite raw and green, will need to improve on than before I post. If you can get hold of a bag of mung bean starch it really easy and the texture is quite elastic and would not break.

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  9. I'll definitely try it with mung bean starch at some point! I'm trying not to shop for too many new ingredients at the moment though, since I'm moving house on July 19th and hence aiming to use things up rather than acquire more :)

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