This classic home made noodle salad (涼麵) is a very popular dish in Taiwan. It’s especially popular during the summer time as summers in Taiwan are always really hot and humid so this noodle salad is made cold with a delicious sauce and refreshing ingredients to help people regain their appetite during this kind of hot weather.
There are so many different countries and places in the East that serve different kinds of noodle salad. For example, Shanghai people like to use an electronic fan to blow noodles to help the noodles cool down after they have cooked. They will then drizzle some oil over the noodles to stop them sticking. Still in Shanghai, they will make their noodle salad sauce with peanut sauce, vinegar and chilli sauce. Other ingredients they may include bean sprouts, prawns and smoked fish. Wuhan people make their salad dressing with toasted sesame sauce, vinegar, garlic puree, soy sauce and sesame oil and the main ingredients they will include with the noodles are cucumber and ham. Taiwan people use toasted white sesame sauce, soy sauce and vinegar for their sauce. Taiwanese people then like to serve noodle salad with julienned cucumber, bean sprouts and chicken breast.
The ingredients I’ve served with this recipe are julienned cucumber, carrot, chicken breast and fried eggs. You can boil the chicken breast if you wish but I prefer to steam the chicken breast as using this method ensures the chicken retains it’s juices and tastes a lot better. You can then use either use a knife to slice the chicken or you can tear it apart with your hands. Personally if I’m serving this dish to non-family members I’ll chop the chicken but at home I’ll just pull it apart by hand. I fried the eggs and made them crepe-thin and then chopped finely. You can use other vegetables including broccoli, peppers, asparagus and baby corn. You can also turn adjust the ingredients and make this dish vegan or vegetarian. The great thing about cold noodle salad is there’s no definitive ingredient list, you can use pretty much anything you want.
A tip for preparing this dish, if you can’t find sesame sauce in your local Chinese supermarket or you think it’s too much hassle to make sesame sauce yourself then you can use tahini sauce instead of Chinese sesame sauce. I tried it before and I think tahini sauce in this noodle salad is just as good if not better than Chinese sesame sauce. Tahini sauce is milder in taste than sesame sauce so if you want your noodle salad to taste a bit mellower then use Tahini sauce.
Another tip for preparing this dish, if you think making noodles is too time consuming or too much hassle you can purchase dried noodles or egg noodles from your local normal or Chinese supermarket. Cook the noodles as you would like them whether it be al dente or not, then cool down under cold water and drain the water. Drizzle some oil to stop the noodles sticking and mix evenly. You can use vegetable oil, olive oil, sunflower oil etc but don’t use an oil with strong a flavour such as toasted sesame oil or extra virgin oil as these will start to overpower the taste of the noodles and it’s accompanying ingredients.
- Ingredients for Noodles:
- 1 1/2 cups/350g water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 1/2 cups/850g bread flour
- 1 tablespoon lye water (available in Chinese supermarket)
- Oil for coating the noodle once it’s cooked and cooled down
- Ingredients for Salad:
- 1 cucumber, julienne
- 1 small sized carrot, julienne
- 2 chicken breasts
- 2 large sized eggs
- Ingredients for Noodle Salad Sauce:
- 3/4 cup/150g toasted white sesame
- 1/2 cup/100ml water
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil (or you can use olive oil, vegetable oil)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
Procedure for noodles:
Mix all the ingredients for the noodles together in a large mixing bowl. Kneed the dough until it’s loose and even.
Flatten the dough and separate the dough into even amounts.
Roll each load of dough until it’s thin enough to fit through your pasta machine (approximately 1 cm thick)
Use the pasta machine to flatten the mixture. Repeat this process several times and each time make the rollers in the machine closer. In the case of the machine I used I set at setting number 4 (1 being the thickest, 9 being the thinnest.)
After the dough has been flattened feed the mixture through the rollers then cut the cough on the other end. Cover the noodles with flour and set aside.
When you’re ready to cook the noodles boil a pan of water and cook the noodles for approximately 2-3 minutes. After they are cooked cool the noodles down with cold water and then drain the water. Cover the noodles with a little cooking oil to stop the noodles sticking together.
Procedure for salad:
Julienne the cucumber and carrot.
Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper. Roll the chicken breast in some cling film and steam the chicken breast until it has cooked. (Approximately 20 minutes)
After it has cooked remove the cling film and allow it to cool down then julienne the chicken.
Beat the eggs, mix with 1 teaspoon light soy sauce and a pinch of ground white pepper. Heat up a frying pan and make a crepe-thin fried egg. After the egg has cooked and cooled, julienne it.
Procedures for noodle salad sauce:
Toast the white sesame in a frying pan. Use a food processor or smoothie machine to puree the white sesame with 1 tablespoon sunflower oil when the sesame is still warm.
Add all of the ingredients into either machine that you used and continue to mix everything together until there are no lumps. Taste the sauce before serving. You can adjust the seasoning yourself to suit personal preference. I like the dressing quite strong but adjust the amounts of salt and soy sauce to suit. If you like the sauce a bit spicy. You can put some Sichuan pepper corn oil or Chili oil in the sauce.