A popular Chinese appetizer, glass noodle salad combines springy noodles, crunchy vegetables and a mouthwatering dressing. It’s vegan and gluten-free adaptable.
Today’s recipe, Glass Noodle Salad (Liang Ban Fen Si/凉拌粉丝), is an easy vegan dish that frequently appears on our dinner table. It’s as refreshing and delicious as Sichuan Cold Noodles, yet has a unique springy texture.
In addition to serving it as a cold appetizer (Liang Cai/凉菜) for multi-dish Chinese meals, I often enjoy it as a quick lunch on its own. It takes a short time to prepare and the sauce is made with just a few essential Chinese condiments.
About glass noodles
In this recipe, the term “glass noodles” refers to noodles made from mung bean starch, which are known as Fen Si/粉丝 in Chinese. The word “glass” is used to describe their semi-transparent appearance after they’re cooked.
Other English names, such as mung bean vermicelli, bean thread noodles, and cellophane noodles, are also used for this particular ingredient. It is the key ingredient for classic Chinese dishes like Ants Climbing A Tree, Garlic Shrimp with Vermicelli, etc.
They come in dried form, often packaged in small bundles weighing 50g/1.76oz each (as shown in the image above). While they resemble rice vermicelli (what you use for Singapore Mei Fun), their texture is quite different once cooked.
🛎Substitutes: It’s important to note that the term “glass noodles” can also refer to Fen Tiao/粉条, noodles made from sweet potato starch or potato starch which I introduced in my post on Stir-fried Glass Noodles. They can be used as a substitute for this recipe.
For the vegetables
- Fresh chili pepper
- Cilantro/coriander, optional
🛎 Substitutes: carrots and cucumber can be replaced by other vegetables, such as bean sprouts, spinach, zucchini/courgette, etc.
For the dressing
- Minced garlic
- Chili flakes
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Neutral cooking oil
- Light soy sauce
- Black rice vinegar
- Salt & sugar
- Sesame oil
🛎 Substitutes: To make this dish gluten-free friendly, replace regular soy sauce with gluten-free soy sauce and substitute black rice vinegar with lime juice.
Step 1: Prepare the noodles
Unlike cooking regular wheat-based noodles, it’s best to first soak these glass noodles and then briefly boil them to achieve an optimal texture: not mushy, but pleasantly springy.
Start by placing the dried noodles in a large bowl and covering them with plenty of cold water and soak for about 10 minutes (or 5 minutes in hot water) until they become pliable.
To make them easier to handle while eating, use kitchen scissors to cut them a little shorter.
Next, bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Put in the rehydrated noodles and cook for about 2½ minutes until they can be snapped with your nails (or give them a taste). At this stage, they should be slightly firmer than your preferred texture, as they’ll reach the perfect consistency by the time you serve the dish.
Transfer the noodles to a bowl of cold water to cool (with ice cubes if available). Drain them thoroughly then put into a large bowl.
Step 2: Prepare the vegetables
While waiting for the noodles to soak, grate carrot and cucumber with a kitchen grater. Alternatively, use a knife to cut them into thin stripes.
Chop fresh chili pepper and halve cilantro sprigs lengthways if using.
Step 3: Make the dressing
Just like making Chinese Chili Oil, you’ll need hot oil to enhance the flavor of the aromatic, spices and nuts.
Put minced garlic, chili flakes, and sesame seeds into a small bowl. Heat oil in a pan/wok until hot. Then pour it over the mixture. You’ll see intense bubbles appear. Stir immediately to heat all elements evenly.
Add soy sauce, black rice vinegar, salt, sugar, and sesame oil. Mix well.
Step 4: Assemble the dish
Add grated carrot, cucumber, fresh chili and cilantro to the drained noodles. Pour the dressing mixture over.
Toss until the seasoning is distributed evenly. Transfer to a serving plate and enjoy this glass noodle salad immediately.
If you’ve cooked a batch of glass noodles for later use, you can keep them in the fridge for up to three days. After cooling them in cold water, coat them lightly with sesame oil to prevent sticking and store them in an airtight container.
Also, the vegetables and the dressing can be prepared ahead of time too. However, it is best to mix them with the noodles just before serving. If left too long, the noodles would become overly soft or even soggy.
More simple dishes to try
Here are other Quick & Easy dishes to try:
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Glass Noodle Salad (凉拌粉丝)
- 3.5 oz glass noodles - see note 1
- 1 medium carrot - grated
- ½ large cucumber - grated
- Chili pepper - to taste, finely chopped
- Cilantro/coriander - optional
For the dressing
- 3 cloves garlic - minced
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes - or to taste
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1½ tablespoon neutral cooking oil
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce - see note 2
- 1 tablespoon black rice vinegar - see note 2
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- Soak glass noodles in cold water for 10 minutes or in hot water for 5 minutes (see note 3) until they become pliable. Cut them shorter with scissors.
- Bring plenty of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the drained noodles. Cook for about 2½ minutes (see note 3) until they’re done (can be snapped with nails but still crispy).
- Transfer them to a bowl of cold water to cool. Drain well and set aside.
- Put minced garlic, chili flakes, and sesame seeds into a small bowl. Heat oil then pour it over the mixture.
- Stir well then add light soy sauce, black rice vinegar, sesame oil, salt and sugar.
- Add the noodles, carrot, cucumber, fresh chili and cilantro (if using) to a large bowl. Pour the dressing mixture over. Toss well then transfer to a serving plate.
NUTRITION DISCLOSURE: Nutritional information on this website is provided as a courtesy to readers. It should be considered estimates. Please use your own brand nutritional values or your preferred nutrition calculator to double check against our estimates.
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