Liang mian (涼麵) translates to cold (or rather, cool) noodles. It’s the perfect summer meal. Refreshing but filling, light noodles mixed with crunchy vegetables and a creamy sesame sauce that you can tweak and embellish as much as you can your hot pot dipping sauce. Liang mian comes in so many different forms in Chinese cuisine (and other Asian cuisines), but my nostalgic favorite is the Taiwanese street food version.
In Taiwan, liang mian is a drunk food. Many noodle shops are open late at night (some only at night), serving up the post-nightclub crowd into the wee hours of morning. It’s especially popular for women as a “lighter” meal. Of course, it’s also appropriate for breakfast. Although, in Taiwan, anything goes for breakfast. And a popular choice for a snack throughout the day, courtesy of your local 7-Eleven refrigerator section.
I love liang mian for any warm day. While I usually default to cold soba noodles as soon as it goes about 75 degrees, sometimes I put in marginally more effort and chop up some carrots and egg to go with my cucumbers and noodles, drizzle in some chili oil to my sauce and whip up a slightly more indulgent meal.
The recipe is simple: fresh noodles (usually thinner, alkaline fresh noodles), julienned baby cucumbers, carrots, egg crepe (beat an egg with a little bit of water and then pour into a pan so it’s nice and thin and cook over low heat until it’s cooked through but not browning).
The sauce and condiments are where it gets more fun. Generally, we use sesame paste (the Chinese kind, which is toasted and nuttier than tahini) usually with some peanut butter, some soy sauce, black vinegar, and white sugar. Then, the add ins include grated raw garlic, chili oil, scallions.