Chinese Mung bean jelly salad (Liangfen, 凉粉) pleases your palate both with its interesting texture and with its pungent flavour.
Most popular in northern and western regions of China, mung bean jelly salad (Liangfen, 凉粉) consists of white stripes of starch jelly and a savoury, spicy sauce. It’s one of my favourite dishes to serve at dinner parties. It’s very simple to make, looks appetizing and tastes amazing.
The process of making Mung bean jelly is incredibly simple: heat up the mixture of mung bean starch and water until it becomes very thick and translucent. Leave it to cool and firm up to a block of jelly. To ensure you a fail-proof cooking experience, I’d like to emphasis a few tips:
- For this recipe, the measurement of the main ingredients is in VOLUME. If you use 1 part of mung bean starch, you will need 7 parts of water. You may alter the ratio slightly depending on your preference of firmness.
- Mix the mung bean starch with 1 part of water and heat up the rest of the water in a separate sauce pan. It is crucial to pour the mixture into the hot water at the right moment: when you see small bubbles appears from the bottom of the pan. Don’t bring the water to a full boil, otherwise you could easily end up with unwanted hard lumps.
- You can store the jelly in the fridge for up to 3 days. But please be aware that the longer you leave mung bean jelly in the fridge, the firmer it will become (Water tends to slowly “escape” from the jelly block).
Mung bean jelly can be served in numerous ways, but the most popular method is to slice it into noodle like stripes and season with a savoury sauce. As you can see from the image below, I use a tool specifically designed for slicing the jelly. It looks like a mini slotted spoon and the sharp blades around each hole cut the jelly into round noodles. This is a tool widely used by street stall vendors in Gansu province (in the North-west of China) where I grew up.
A few months ago, I bought my first mung bean jelly slicer from China. Every time I use it, sweet memories of childhood food floods back to my mind. Of course, this special slicer is not at all compulsory for this recipe. You may simply use a knife to cut the jelly into the shape of your choice.
To season mung bean jelly, I often use homemade Spicy black bean sauce (辣豆豉酱). This is how I served the dish at my Supper Club at a local restaurant in Bedford, UK where I currently live. As mung bean jelly tastes rather plain on its own, it’s preferable to use a pungent dressing to give it a bit of kick. Apart from black bean sauce, you can use two other sauces that I shared in my salad recipes: Aubergine salad with garlic dressing & Cucumber salad with easy Chinese dressing.
A final note: I’ve come across some recipes which suggest that you may replace mung bean starch with potato starch or sweet potato starch. According to my own experiments, when using substitutes, the final texture of the jelly tends to be sticky, less firm and does’t have a nice crunchiness to bite.
So I highly recommend you make an effort to look for mung bean starch. I found it in a general Asian store near where I live in the UK and it’s made in Thailand.
Mung bean jelly salad (Liangfen, 凉粉)
- Mix mung bean starch with ½ cup of water in a bowl.
- Heat up the remaining 3 cups of water in a saucepan until you see small bubbles start to appear at the bottom (see note 1).
- Turn the heat to low. Quickly pour in the starch and water mixture while stirring constantly with a spatular (see note 2).
- Remove the pan from the heat once you see big air bubbles coming up and the mixture appears to be translucent.
- Pour the mixture into a container. Leave to cool, then store in the fridge until it forms a solid jelly (it takes around 2 hours).
- You may use a special mung bean jelly slicer (see images in the post above) or simply cut it with a knife into shapes of your choice.
- Garnish with coriander and fresh chilli. Season with black rice vinegar and Homemade spicy black bean sauce or other chilli sauces of your choice (see note 3).