Learn how to make fresh Chinese liangpi noodles, using just flour, water, and salt. BONUS: you'll also make your own seitan (wheat gluten) in the process!
Steamer or wok with lid
Metal cake pan (round or square; must fit in steamer)
Kitchen scale (optional, but highly recommended)
Stand mixer (optional)
450gall purpose flour(450g = about 3 ¼ cups; measure by weight for best results)
4gsalt(4g salt = 1 teaspoon)
250gwater(250g water = 250 ml = about 1 cup; will need more for washing/batter)
PHASE 1: Separate the Starch & Gluten
Combine 450g flour and 4g salt in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. If kneading by hand, combine the dry mixture with 250g water gradually by hand until a shaggy dough forms. If using a mixer, turn the mixer on low speed (usually the “stir” setting), while gradually pouring in the water until you have a shaggy dough.
Once you’ve formed dough, knead it for about 3 minutes, or until it forms a relatively firm, cohesive ball. Cover and rest for 10 minutes. Knead the dough again by hand for about 1 minute until it forms a smooth ball. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.
To the dough in the bowl, add 3 cups of water. Push the dough down into the water so it’s fully submerged, and soak it for 5 minutes.
Next, begin the “washing” process. Traditionally, this is done by hand. While the dough is still submerged in the water, squeeze and stretch it between your fingers to release the starch. Wash until the dough loses its shape and the water is opaque white, about 2-3 minutes. Alternatively, you can use a mixer to do this work for you. Place the mixing bowl of dough/water back on the mixer with the dough hook attachment. Place the pouring shield/splash guard on the mixer and turn it on at the lowest setting. Let the dough hook massage the dough for 2 minutes. (There is some risk of splashing with this first step since this is the most water you will use at one time, so you may choose to do this first step by hand.)
Pour out the starchy water into another large bowl and set aside (this is the bowl of starch you will be using to make the noodles). Add 2 more cups of fresh water to your dough and wash again for 3 minutes. This time, strain the starchy water with a fine meshed strainer (as the dough becomes more broken up, little pieces will begin to separate out). Repeat one more time with 2 cups of fresh water, for a total of 3 “washings” so far.
After you’ve strained your third batch of starchy water add 1 cup of fresh water to the dough, and massage for 4 minutes. (You’ll have to massage it longer to remove the remaining starch. If you’re using a mixer, you can also turn the speed up one notch, now that there’s less risk of splashing.) Do this step (with 1 cup fresh water) 3 times, for a total of 6 “washings” thus far. If using a mixer, squeeze the dough between your fingers a few times after each washing to thoroughly release as much starch as possible.
Next, add a cup of water and wash again for a few minutes by hand to really squeeze out the last remaining bits of starch. Do this 1-2 more times, until the water is mostly clear and your gluten ball comes together. If the water is mostly clear, you can discard it rather than adding it to your bowl of starchy liquid.
PHASE 2: Strain & Allow Starch to Settle
Set the gluten ball aside, covered with an overturned bowl, to allow the gluten to relax at least 2 hours (you can store it in the refrigerator). Keep it covered, or it will dry out. Strain the starchy water through a fine meshed strainer into another large bowl, to remove any dough solids that may have slipped by.
Set aside for at least 6 hours or overnight (at room temperature if it’s not too hot/humid, or in the refrigerator). This allows the starch in the water to settle fully to the bottom of the bowl. You can’t shortcut this step––believe me, I tried! It’ll look like the starch is settling rapidly, but you really need the full 6 hours for all the suspended starch to fully settle and meld to itself at the bottom of the bowl.
PHASE 3: Cook Noodles & Wheat Gluten
Steam your gluten for 30 minutes and set aside. While the gluten is steaming, pour off the water from the starchy liquid bowl, leaving just the thick glue-like layer of white starch at the bottom. When all the water is poured off, use a metal spoon or ladle to scrape the starch from the bottom of the bowl, and stir the thick liquid so the mixture is completely homogeneous throughout (there should be no lumps of starch remaining). Using your ladle and a kitchen scale, ladle out 300g of the starchy mixture into a separate medium bowl.
To that, add 2g (½ teaspoon) salt and 150ml (about ⅔ cup) fresh water. Mix until well combined. This is your noodle batter.
Bring water to a boil in your steamer. Brush vegetable oil on a round or square cake pan (it must be able to fit in your steamer). Pour a thin layer of batter into the oiled pan, so that it just covers the entire bottom of the pan. Immediately put in the steamer, cover, and steam for 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Alternatively, you can steam the noodles directly on top of simmering water in a wok with a lid, like my mom did in her homemade rice noodle recipe.
Meanwhile, prepare a large bowl of cold water––you can put a few ice cubes in it to make sure it stays cold. Carefully remove the pan from the steamer and set it on the surface of the cold water so it can cool. When the noodle is cool to the touch (it will take about 1 minute to cool), brush the surface with a thin layer of oil, and carefully peel it off the oiled pan using a rubber spatula and your hands.
Repeat this process, thoroughly stirring the batter before you ladle it into the pan every single time (the starch rapidly settles, so you have to make sure the mixture is evenly combined each time to get the right ratio of starch to water). Be sure to scrape up any starch that has settled to the bottom, and incorporate it back into the batter. As you make your noodles, oil them thoroughly and stack on top of one another.
When you run out of batter, measure out another 300g of the starch, and add 150 ml water to make more. You will have about three total batches. If the remaining total starch does not exactly measure 900g, just know that you need about ½ the weight of water to starch. Basically, divide whatever your starch weight is in half, and that is the weight/volume of water you need (when measuring water, 1g = 1 ml).
When your noodles are done and cooled, slice them, and slice the gluten. To see how we like to serve our liangpi, check out our Spicy Cold Skin Noodles recipe.
If you have leftover noodles, transfer them to an airtight container, and refrigerate. They will keep for 2-3 days. Just make sure they're tightly covered, or they can dry out!