SPICY COLD SKIN NOODLES (LIANGPI)
A cold noodle dish like liangpi, or spicy skin noodles, is ideal for the sweltering summer months. You can’t go wrong with this fiery concoction, which is also surprisingly light on the taste.
liangpi noodles can be hard to come by in Chinese markets, but we’ve got a recipe for you!
Do you know what COLD SKIN NOODLES are?
Cucumbers, cilantro, and bean sprouts accompany the cold skin noodles, or liángp, which are wide, flat noodles often prepared from wheat flour (but rice flour can also be used). To translate “liangpi” into English, “cold skin” comes to mind.
The dish comes from Shaanxi province in northwest China, whose capital city is Xi’An, and is available all year round.
Anyone in the New York City vicinity should have an immediate sense of deja vu ringing in their ears. Xi’An Famous Foods, a prominent restaurant in our city, serves cold skin noodles as a regular item on the menu.
The spicy cumin lamb biang biang noodles are my go-to dish in the fall and winter, but what about in the spring and especially in the dog days of summer? I can only think about cold skin noodles and a large cup of jasmine iced tea.
Even though I haven’t been to Manhattan in a while, eating these noodles brings back memories of a 90-degree day in Xi’an Famous Foods. I always show up drenched in perspiration, looking in bewilderment as other customers suck hot bowls of noodle soup into their mouths.
Because I have no shame and have a history of spoiling clothes with chili oil splatters, I utilize numerous napkins unceremoniously tucked inside my shirt as bibs while eating my cold skin noodles between gulps of ice cold tea. Classy-like.
It’s the PERFECT meal on a hot summer day.
HOW ARE LIANGPI NOODLES DIFFERENT?
Liangpi have a distinct flavor and texture that is unique to them. There is some chewiness and bounce, but they aren’t inherently more elastic than a wheat flour noodle (like our handmade noodles).
Liangpi’s origins are revealed during the crafting process, both educational and entertaining. Because the liangpi I used to take these shots was handcrafted, I had to get to know it rather well. My liangpi recipe is now online!
Using all-purpose flour, salt, and water, you may create a dough ready to be baked. As the last step, the starches in the dough are “washed” or “rinsed” with water to extract them. It is necessary to drain off the starchy water and let it sit overnight so that the starch can settle to the bottom of the bowl.
Noodles combine the milky white starch with fresh water to make a batter, which is then steamed in thin layers to create sheets of translucent “skin.”
It’s as simple as stacking up the noodles, cutting them, and voilà! Crinkly, springy pasta noodles. Fresh liangpi can be hard to come by, but if you have access to all-purpose flour, you can create your own!
In the event you don’t have time to make our liangpi recipe, you can use boiling broad, flat rice noodles or dried mung bean noodles. Fresh wide rice noodles can also be substituted.
A WORD ABOUT WHEAT GLUTEN
There is a key ingredient in this recipe that looks and feels like tofu puffs: wheat gluten. The liangpi-making method produces wheat gluten as a byproduct.
Noodles are made from starch, which is obtained as a powder. There’s still a lot of gluten in there. Nothing goes to waste in the kitchens of the Chinese. It’s sliced, steamed, and then added to the dish! It provides a lot of visual interest. If you want to learn more about this item, check out our recipe for Kao Fu Braised Wheat Gluten).
For the time being, Chinese grocery stores sell pre-made noodles and wheat gluten. To help you identify wheat gluten, I’ve attached a picture of it below.
- 2 cloves of smashed and finely minced garlic
- 1/4 cup of chili oil (preferably homemade)
- 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons of Chinese black vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of Sichuan peppercorn powder
- 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
REST OF THE DISH:
- 200 g of fresh liangpi noodles
- 100 g of wheat gluten
- 1 small julienned cucumber
- 1 1/2 cups of bean sprouts
- 1/4 cup of cilantro leaves
- Combine each ingredient in the sauce. If necessary, taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Bring the cooked noodles to a big mixing bowl after cooking them in accordance with the package’s instructions.
- Wheat gluten and beansprouts should be steamed or blanched. If steaming, steam at a high temperature for roughly 5 minutes. You can blanch for around 30 seconds. Add them with the cilantro and cucumber to the bowl containing the noodles.
- Toss everything together after adding the sauce to the mixing bowl. Re-taste and adjust the seasonings. You are welcome to add more salt, sugar, chili oil, vinegar, soy sauce, or vinegar to your liking. Serve!