Back in 2011 when I went to live in Taiwan for a year, “liang mian” or “cold noodles” was one of the first street foods I had, which I immediately took a liking. My friend’s mom had made it for us several days before, and I was taken by how simple it was. Actually, I was surprised the noodles were served cold, which is a rarity especially with East Asian food. But it made sense because Taiwan can get pretty darn hot in the summer and nobody wants to eat a hot bowl of noodles when the humidity and outside temperature is at its peak.

The dish is sort of like a salad. You prepare all of the ingredients - the noodles, vegetables and eggs separately. Then you make the dressing or rather the sauce and pour it over everything. I made the sauce with peanut butter, but a lot of the liang mian I had in Taiwan used tahini, which was a lot more mellow in flavor, but it’s so your choice as to which you prefer.

The sauce has the perfect blend of salt, sugar, spice and creaminess from the peanut butter. The cucumber provides a nice cooling effect and the carrots gives the noodles a bite.

Taiwanese Cold Noodles with Peanut Sauce | (Liang Mian 凉面)

1/2 pound Chinese wheat noodles

Toppings

  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 cucumber, shredded
  • 1-2 eggs, shredded or 5-6 tofu puffs, shredded
  • dash of salt

Sauce:

  • 1 ½ tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • ½ cup smooth peanut butter or tahini
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 ½ tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste

Directions

  1. Cook the noodles until al dente. Strain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
  2. Using a food processor with the grating attachment or a box grater, grate the carrot and cucumber. Set aside.
  3. If using egg(s), scramble and cook over medium high heat until done, about 2-3 minutes. Let cool, cut into shreds and set aside.
  4. If using tofu puffs, cook in boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Let cool and cut into shreds.
  5. In a food processor with the blade attachment, put in ginger, garlic, peanut butter or tahini, soy suace, rice vinegar, sugar, sesame seeds and chili paste. Pulse to puree until sauce is smooth. If sauce is too thick, add 2-3 tablespoons of water.
  6. To assemble, pour sauce over noodles.