The name of the Chinese noodle dish liangpi means "cold skin", indicative of the cool temperature at which these noodles are usually served and their translucent, skin-like appearance. Liangpi's noodles have a very particular texture and are spongey in texture, slightly different from what many may come to expect from a noodle.
You'll typically find these pliable, stretchy noodles dressed with spring onions and cucumbers and completed with a healthy dose of chilli sauce. However, you can also make them from rice and vary the flavours.
Liangpi comes from the province of Shaanxi in the northwest of China but I learnt how to make liangpi from our local Chinese takeaway shop in Melbourne, Australia. As it turns out, the shop owner is my parents' friend, and he comes from Shaanxi's capital of Xi'an, which makes liangpi his speciality.
We mix plain flour, water and a pinch of salt to make a dough, then rinse it in water to let out the starch.
This liquid separates into water and a white-coloured starch overnight. We mix the starchy component with fresh water to make sheets of noodles.
You can also buy these noodles ready-made. But if you don't want wheat-based noodles, you can buy flat rice ones instead.
As it has been very sunny in Melbourne lately, we have been eating this dish every day since I learnt how to cook it at home.
You can serve liangpi in vinegar or chilli oil if you want to give your dish a bit of kick. I go further, to suit my family's "ABC" tastes (our kids were born in Australia, my husband comes from Bangladesh, and I'm from China).
We like adding cucumber, bean shoots, dry tofu, a little bit fresh chilli, coriander, spring onions and garlic, which also makes it healthier and a delight for your eyes.
For vegans and vegetarians alike, this is potentially a quick and easy lunch choice.
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Liangpi (cold skin noodles)
- 450 g plain or all-purpose flour
- ¾ tsp salt
- 2 cups water
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
1. Combine 450 g flour and 4 g salt in a large mixing bowl, and combine the dry mixture with 2 cups water gradually by hand until a shaggy dough forms. If using a mixer, turn the mixer on low speed, while gradually pouring in the water until you have a shaggy dough.
2. Once you've formed dough, knead it for about 3 minutes, or until it is relatively firm. Cover and rest for 10 minutes. Knead the dough again by hand for about 1 minute until it forms a smooth ball. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.
3. To the dough in the bowl, add 3 cups of water. Push the dough down into the water so it's fully submerged, and soak it for 5 minutes.
4. While the dough is still submerged in the water, squeeze and stretch it between your fingers to release the starch. Wash until the dough loses its shape and the water is milky white, about 2-3 minutes. Alternatively, you can use a mixer to do this work for you.
5. Place the mixing bowl of dough and water back on the mixer and turn it on at the lowest setting. Let the dough hook massage the dough for 2 minutes. (Be very careful as the water can be splashed out, so you may choose to do this first step by hand if needed).
6. Pour out the starchy water into another large bowl and set aside (this is the bowl of starch you will be using to make the noodles).
7. Add 2 more cups of fresh water to your dough and wash again for 3 minutes. Strain the starchy water with a fine-meshed strainer (as the dough becomes more broken up, little pieces will begin to separate). Repeat one more time with 2 cups of fresh water, for a total of 3 washings, so far.
8. After you've strained your third batch of starchy water add 1 cup of fresh water to the dough, and massage for 4 minutes. (You'll have to massage it longer to remove the remaining starch. If you're using a mixer, you can also turn the speed up one notch, now that there's less risk of splashing) If using a mixer, squeeze the dough between your fingers a few times after each washing to thoroughly release as much starch as possible.
9. Add a cup of water and wash again for a few minutes by hand to really squeeze out the last remaining bits of starch. Do this 1-2 more times, until the water is mostly clear and your gluten ball comes together. If the water is mostly clear, you can discard it and move to the next step.
10. Set the gluten ball aside, covered with an overturned bowl, to allow the gluten to relax at least 2 hours (you can store it in the refrigerator). Keep it covered. Strain the starchy water through a fine-meshed strainer into another large bowl, to remove any dough solids that may have slipped by.
11. Set aside for at least 6 hours or overnight (at room temperature if it's not too hot/humid, or in the refrigerator). This allows the starch in the water to settle fully to the bottom of the bowl.
12. The following day, spoon out the clear water that appears on top then steam the remaining paste little by little in shallow plates.
13. Steam and cover for 1-2 minutes (you can steam for 1.5 minutes then cover for 30 seconds).
14. Use a non-stick tray, coat it with a thin layer of oil for the first sheet of noodle, the following ones won't stick to the surface (I suggest to use two trays to rotate, a smooth workflow of steaming and cooling, which will save you half of the required time).
15. When cooled (it normally takes about 1 minute), cut, slice and separate the noodles.
16. Pour the sauce and vegetables, enjoy!
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup water
- 1 tsp cornstarch, mixed with 1 tsp of water
- 2 tbsp black rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp chilli oil (optional)
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
1. Mix all ingredients above, and pour the sauce on the noodles.
2. Garnish with vegetables, such as thin-sliced cucumbers, bean shoots, a little bit fresh chilli, coriander, spring onions, you can also add pork mince or sliced chicken, depends on personal preference.
• You can always find the ready-made noodles for liangpi at Asian grocery stores.