Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is the most important family holiday for Chinese. New Year’s Eve dinner is the time for the family to get together and enjoy food and the Chinese New Year Gala. My parents always made a few salad dishes for this special event, and this carrot, cucumber and glass noodle salad is a must. I still remember when I was a kid, my brother and I loved this noodle salad so much that we stuffed ourselves with it and barely had enough room for the main course, such as pork dumplings, sweet and sour meatballs, braised pork, and so on.
Later when I was in graduate school in the States, all my Chinese friends would always have a potluck party to celebrate Chinese New Year. Salads with glass noodles were always very popular and there were never any leftovers. For students who are busy studying and have less time and experience in cooking, this salad is the best choice to make at home or bring to a party. All you need to do is remember the two simple tips.
Tip 1. Cook the glass noodles in boiled water for about 2 minutes, and then let it sit for 1 minute or until it is soft. Rinse thoroughly with cold water to remove the extra starch on the surface. This will avoid the glass noodles sticking together and enhance the fresh and clean taste.
Tip2. Heat the vegetable or canola oil till smoky hot, and then pour on top of the crushed chili pepper, garlic, and green onion. The high temperature of the oil will extract the flavor out of the pepper quickly. This is the key to make the dressing.
How much time does it take to make this salad? It took me 19 minutes and 25 seconds. That includes opening the refrigerator to find the carrots and cucumber, cutting the carrots into slices, and peeling and mashing the garlic. All of these steps can be done in advance, or you can even buy the carrots sliced to save time. I hope you will enjoy this simple and refreshing salad just like we do.
- 3 cups water
- 2 oz glass noodles
- 2 medium size carrots (approximately 5 oz)
- ½ medium size cucumber (approximately 7 oz)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp crushed chili pepper
- (optional) ½ tsp Sichuan red pepper corn powder
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- 1-1/2 tbs canola oil
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp soy sauce (gluten-free if desired)
- 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
- Use mandolin or a sharp knife to cut carrots and cucumber into approximately ⅛” x 2-1/2” strips. Set aside.
- Heat water in a saucepan. After the water is boiling, add glass noodles, and boil for an additional minute. Add carrots strips and boil for another 1 minute. Turn off heat, and let the carrots and glass noodles soak in the hot water for another 2 minutes.
- Transfer the glass noodles and carrots into a colander and rinse with cold water thoroughly. Set aside.
- Heat a skillet over high heat until it is smoky hot. Carefully add canola oil to the skillet and let the heat transfer to the oil (approximately 30 seconds). Place the cooked glass noodles, carrots, and cucumber into a mixing bowl. Place the pepper, garlic, and green onions on top. When the canola oil is smoky hot, remove the skillet from heat and carefully pour the hot oil over the spices.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and gently toss. Serve cold.