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Jul 24, 2009 05:30 PM

Where can I buy mung bean noodles?

I have developed a pathetic and debilitating addiction to cold spicy mung bean noodles, the kind served at Szechuan restaurants. Since this dish doesn't seem terribly difficult to make at home - hot oil, garlic, scallions, right? - I'd like to prepare it myself and save money and precious, precious time. They are square sided and thick, and clearish, and gelatinous. But I can't find them at my local Chinese supermarket (on Clinton St., if you're interested). It seems like they ought to be in the refrigerator case next to the udon noodles, maybe. But they're not! Have you seen them anywhere?

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  1. Might want to check out Kam Man Market, 200 Canal St. in Chinatown.

    1 Reply
    1. they usually come dried - you need to rehydrate them before using. my guess is that your local Asian market has them & you were looking in the wrong place. if you happen to be in midtown, you can definitely get them at H-Mart on West 32nd.

      7 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        Thanks, I'll look there as well. I did peruse the dried noodles, but all I found were those super-skinny bean threads.

        1. re: small h

          oops. mung bean noodles *are* bean thread/cellophane noodles - they just come in different widths. you found what you were looking for, they probably just didn't have the thicker ones in stock.

          1. re: small h

            Is this what you are looking for?


            It is a type of mung bean noodle but you just have to find the wide, flat ones... like goodhealthgourmet had suggested. It's hard to find sometimes but you might be able to check out more stores in Chinatown. If not, I think the Hong Kong Market in Flushing may carry it. Btw. it's called "Kuan Fen" (寬粉) in Chinese.... maybe that helps.

            Another possibility I can think of is a round, clear, plastic-looking sheet sold as Fen-Pi (in case you don't speak Mandarin, it's pronounced "Fun Pee" not "Fun Pie"). The Chinese translation is "粉皮" or "flour skin" (as in "mung bean flour skin"). They look a little like Vietnamese Rice paper but it's made of mung bean flour rather than rice and they are a little more smooth on the surface and less opaque than Vietnamese rice paper. This type of mung bean "flour skin" needs to be soaked in water (or boiled in water sometimes, depending on what type you buy) then you can slice it into "noodles". I think sometimes they are not that clear in opacity so maybe you were looking for the flat mung bean noodles instead.... but anyway, here is a link to a picture of "Mung Bean Flour Skin":


            The last possibility I can think of is a jell-o - like Mung Bean "Noodle" block sold in plastic bags. They usually are stored unrefrigerated (because if you refrigerate them they will lose their soft, smooth texture). You might want to check the supermarkets in Chinatown near the tofu section ... but it's usually left out at room temperature, stacked in boxes and kept unrefrigerated. I believe sometimes they have signs written in Chinese "Do Not Refrigerate". This is called "Liang Fen" or "涼粉" (cold skin) in Mandarin. One very common confusion is that, in Cantonese, the same words "涼粉" refer to dark colored "herbal jelly" which is a dessert instead. So if you go to a Cantonese-run store, they might guide you to the desserts section! Anyway, because these "noodle blocks" are not refrigerated, they can spoil very quickly... so you will have to eat them soon and not refrigerate them (because they will turn hard and lose the nice texture). Once you unpack them.. you will slice the "block" into "noodles" and mix with the hot sauce....


            It would look like the white block on the dish in the above picture.

            Hope this helps.

            1. re: bearmi

              I think your third possibility must be what I'm looking for - in the image, the noodle block is even paired with chili paste, garlic and scallions, the ingredients in the finished dish. Here's what I'm trying to make:


              I didn't think of it before, but the noodles are suspiciously short, as if they'd been sliced off a block. So how perishable is this stuff? I'm disappointed that I can't stock up!

              Oh, and thank you so much!

              1. re: small h

                No problem. Glad I can help. One problem is that we don't know how long it's been sitting at the store so I think a day or two max would be how long I would keep those "blocks". I don't believe they are made in sterilized conditions or packaged in sterilized packaging like those shelf stable tetrapak tofu blocks. Also, I would say most consumers buy them from the market in the morning and then make the "noodle salad" for lunch or dinner, basically within the same day. Because of high moisture content and lack of refrigeration (to preserve the texture), they don't last too long before they start going bad. Wouldn't want to risk your health on that.

                1. re: bigjeff

                  No problem. Whenever I can help, I try. I shop at Chinese markets all the time and I love reading Chinese cookbooks for fun so whatever I know I am willing to share :)

          2. sounds good! can you substitute konnyaku for that?

            4 Replies
            1. re: bigjeff

              Are those the sweet potato noodles? I'm outside my area of expertise here (which is pretty narrow anyway), but I don't see why you couldn't make the dish that way. The noodles themselves add only texture, so anything cool & slippery would probably work.

              1. re: small h

                no those are for japchae (forget the name) and require a lot of grease (not a bad thought); I'm thinking of the japanese blocks that they also sell as "noodles" and also known as shiritake. not sure what it is made of, some vegetable matter I believe.

                1. re: bigjeff

                  konnyaku gel and noodles are both made with konjac flour, which is derived from the corm (a starchy underground stem) of the Konjac plant.

                  i understand why small h thought the noodles might be made from sweet potatoes, because konjac is often labeled as "yam flour"...though i'll never understand why, because the plant isn't even a tuber.

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    I think what I came across was "elephant yam flour," so I put two and two together and got five. Next, I will attempt to make wine from grapefruit and omelets from eggplant.

                    The shirataki noodles look right, but also like they might be a little chewy. The consistency of the mung bean noodle is like gelatin, only with slightly more structural integrity.

            2. So, armed with bearmi's Mandarin translation and markabauman's store suggestion, I went to New Kam Man to search for the elusive mung bean noodle block. They didn't have it, but an employee steered me to a small bag of "green bean starch," which had easy to follow English directions. I hadn't intended to make my own noodles - that seemed awfully ambitious - but I gave it a shot anyway. After one miserable failure resulting from a terrible misreading of the easy to follow English directions, and some internet research, I figured out the starch to water ratio should be 1:6 (not 1:20 - ha!). My second attempt was successful! Voila! Homemade spicy mung bean noodles.

              10 Replies
                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  Thanks! And the cool thing is, now I don't need to worry about spoilage. That starch is probably good for a couple hundred years.

                  1. re: KTinNYC

                    For the single serving in the picture:

                    Whisk together 3 tablespoons starch and 18 tablespoons water in a saucepan. Let it sit at room temperature for an hour.

                    Bring the starch water to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, then lower the heat and continue whisking like a crazy person for 3ish minutes, until the mixture becomes a clearish, thick gel.

                    Spread the gel across the bottom of an 8" x 8" baking pan and let it cool down for a half hour or so. Then cover it with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for 3 hours. Run a butter knife underneath the gel to loosen it, slap it on a cutting board and cut it into noodles.

                    Top with scallions, a half clove of minced garlic, a little soy sauce and some hot sauce. I used Tso Hin Kee Chinese Chile Sauce (there's a penguin on the jar), which was WAY TOO HOT, so don't use that kind if you're a wuss like me.

                    It was pretty easy!

                    1. re: small h

                      Ok, now that I've made it a second time:

                      No need to let the starch water sit before heating.
                      An hour in the fridge is plenty.
                      A little sesame oil is always a good idea.
                      For God's sake, saute the garlic and chile sauce a little. Don't be a masochist.

                      And! unless you have a much better dishwasher than I do, handwash your pots and utensils. That gel is mighty tenacious.

                      1. re: small h

                        a practical tip so you don't have to measure out 18 tablespoons of water next time - it's 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons ;)

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          Is it? I measured it out myself & got just shy of two cups water. I'll try again, though.

                        2. re: small h

                          Glad it worked out for you. I was wondering if you were able to find the mung bean jelly and it's nice to see that you were able to make it at home! I made some "gel" myself over the weekend using dried peas, it had a more grainy, less smooth texture but it can be served the same way as a "cold salad".

                          Just to let you know, a few other things you can add as "topping" to add flavor are: 1) toasted white sesame seeds, 2) toasted, chopped peanuts, 3) chopped cilantro, 4) fried garlic, 5) red/hot oil, 6) fried shallots. I have also tried to add a little dash of white pepper (or if you have ground, toasted szechuan peppercorn, that would work too). Sesame paste/peanut butter, vinegar and sugar are a few other condiments you can use to add more complexity to the taste of your "jelly". Some people even mix the "jelly blocks" with sliced cucumbers (you may want to pre-soak them with some salt to get rid of the "raw veggie" taste) to make a refreshing summer time salad. Enjoy!

                          1. re: bearmi

                            Thanks! It's such a neutral food, I think it would mix well with a veritable army of condiments. And I do have way too many shallots...

                            Generally, I'll throw soy sauce, ginger, scallions and sesame oil on anything and call it dinner.

                            1. re: bearmi

                              the cucumber sounds great. I'd also venture to try thousand-year-old eggs.

                    2. I had no idea this was a chinese dish...Koreans eat a very similar dish called chung po mook. I guess my mom was right when she said that everything originates in china!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: soypower

                        Indeed. This Korean recipe was one of my sources. But I will not take sides as to which culture got there first.