Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Homemade Rice Noodle Rolls (Chee Cheong Fun)



Yesterday was Singapore's national day, and so in honour of this special day, I thought I'd share a very Singaporean breakfast dish, often overlooked for the more popular and flashy nasi lemak or fried carrot cake-- chee cheong fun.

The Hongkong dim sum version is usually stuffed with prawns or meat and then steamed, but uniquely in Singapore, a favourite simple breakfast is plain chee cheong fun topped with sesame seeds and drizzled with a thick dark sweet sauce called tim jeong-- which I hated as a kid. I don't know, I guess I'm just not that keen on that sweet hoisin-ish sauce on plain rice noodles. The Penang version uses shrimp paste hae ko which I haven't tried before but which I have a feeling I'll like, but till then, I decided to tweak the basic tim jeong.

What I ended up with was a less sweet, but more salty and savoury and fragrant sauce. Oh I also added a little twist to the plain rolls by steaming it with chopped spring onions for some colour and light scallion-y flavour. I'll share the recipe for my chee cheong fun sauce before I get to the rice noodles.

My Chee Cheong Fun Sweet Sauce
makes about 1/2 cup, easily multiplied
Ingredients
3 tbsp soy sauce (traditionally brewed/fermented)
2 tbsp molasses (I use blackstrap-more nutritional benefits)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil + 1 tsp shallot oil
a bit of water to loosen the sauce (about 3-4 tbsp?)

Ok, on to the main star. You totally can make rice noodles using this recipe, you'd just have to cut them into strips after that. Instead, I made chee cheong fun, which are wide flat pieces of rice noodle (think rice 'lasagne' sheets), rolled up. The vietnamese version of this is called banh cuon.

The original recipe calls for wheat starch (not the same as wheat flour), which gives that smooth springy texture.There's no proper substitute for it, but I really couldn't find it and I got some tips from chowhounders that said potato/tapioca starch could serve as a (not perfect) substitute, so I went for that instead.

Homemade Rice Noodle
Ingredients
makes
150g rice flour (you can use brown rice flour if you think it's healthier, but I don't really think so anymore, I'll talk more about that next time)
1 1/2 tbsp potato/tapioca starch
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp oil
450ml water
pinch of sea salt
1 stalk spring onion, green part only, chopped finely (my spring onions were unusually large, if you were wondering)

Method
Watch this video for a clearer idea.
1. Mix the flours together, then stir in the water slowly, before adding the oil and salt.
2. Leave the batter to rest for at least an hour, before adding the chopped spring onions. (If using brown rice flour, leave it to rest overnight. The soaking will counter the anti-nutrients found in whole grains.)


3. Prepare steamer. Place a large (about 8") oiled plate/tray over and let it heat up.
4. Over boiling water, add a scoop of batter into the hot plate and swirl to let it run to the edges. After a few failed tries you'll know the amount to get a thin layer.


5. Steam for 5 minutes on high heat.
6. Let cool. I place the plate with the rice noodle 'crepe' over a basin of cold water. It's easier to remove when cool. Roll up.


7. Cut into sections. (If making rice noodles like kway teow or fun, cut into thinner strips.)


8. Top with as much sauce and toasted sesame seeds as you like.


You can see that it's not as smooth, springy and translucent as desired (see the sauce seeps into the surface instead of coating it) but hey, it did become a more versatile, accessible, and unintentionally zero-gluten recipe.. Texture aside, I thought the noodles tasted exceptionally fresh and more-ish, especially with the fragrant sweet sauce, but then again it might be the "I-made-it-myself!" syndrome, so maybe someone can try this out too and then tell me whether it's just me.

38 comments:

  1. Hi Shu Han,

    Hats off to you for making this from scratch!! I wished I was as motivated as you because when I was 20, I didn't even know what a clove of garlic looks like. My wife is from Singapore and we often banter about whose food is better. Thankfully, we can get these ready made in Sydney which are pretty good as I would not have the patience to do it myself knowing that I could get it so easily unless my homemade version is a lot more spectacular than the ones in the shop. Try my mum's recipe with your noodles and I think you might enjoy it if you can get fresh prawns in London or Singapore. Happy cooking!

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  2. Gosh, thumbs up, girl. The fun looks yummy and nice clicks too!

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  3. What a fascinating recipe. I had never heard of this before but it looks incredible! I loved my trip to Singapore and especially the food so I'm sure I'd like this!

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  4. that is great! oh wow, I was just thinking how to make chee chong fun.

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  5. Lucky I didn't make one too. I was about to make one the other day, but it is quite a little bit of a fiddle.

    Great take on cheong fan shu han!

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  6. Wow. You are hard-core!!!! Love this. I've never even considered making my own chee cheong fun. I used to eat it every single day for lunch with a bowl of laksa. I was always quite a pig!

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  7. What a beautiful & yummy dish! I love Asian breakfast! Your rice noodle rolls look flavorful and very delicious. Trust me, it won't be just you. :-) Happy Birthday Singapore!

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  8. thanks!

    chopin-: actually yea, now that i'm in singapore, i can get hold of rice noodles/ rolls pretty easily, but it's always fun for me to do sth from scratch. i think it's that "i did it myself" syndrome.. and well, i can keep it in mind for london!

    penny: great minds think alike ;) try the wheat starch version if you want the perfect texture though!

    dom: you went to singapore before?? and you didn't try this?? haha nah just kidding, there's too much good food in singapore to try them all ;)

    pierre: actually it's not that much work, it takes about as much effort as say, crepes , and definitely a lot less effort than your sous vide char siew haha!

    sophia: chee cheong fun AND laksa for lunch? haha. ok i admit i've done similar before.

    nami: thanks! i really hope it's not just me too ><

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  9. Wow, I would love to have this breakfast. This is great rice crepe, I cant believe it cooks by steaming! I am sure it was a delight with the molasses on top.
    Lovely site btw!

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  10. Hey Shu Han
    Thanks for dropping by my blog! Finally I found a blooger from the UK!! Great to know you!! Will love to follow your blog

    Cheers
    Rohini

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  11. I'm in awe. These are just beautiful! I hadn't heard of rice crepes before. I've actually never made a savory crepes, just sweet ones. I should try that.

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  12. I am well impressed. Cheong Fun is something I would never dream of making at home.

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  13. Hi Shu Han, thanks very much for visiting my blog earlier. Looks like another great chef is on the fun here! Well done, girl. I'm sure your mom is going to be so proud of you.
    Thanks for sharing & have fun!
    Blessings, Kristy

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  14. Ilke: thanks, steaming is a popular method here! we even steam cakes (:

    rohini: thanks for following!

    mary: i actually have savoury crepes more often than sweet!

    mr noodles: actually, it's not that complicated..just takes a bit more time i would say..

    kristy: hah not really, she says i shouldn;t waste so much time in the kitchen ><

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  15. Oh wow! This is a great recipe! Thanks! It looks really light too! I will try making cheung fun soon!

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  16. I've been looking for a recipe like this! I'm testing it out tonight. Thanks for posting!

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  17. elsie: thanks! oh i would say the texture is not as slippery and smooth as dim sum cheung fun though, because I left out the wheat starch, but it is a tad healthier this way (:

    lissa: thanks lissa, lmk how it went!!

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  18. Thanks for sharing your recipe. It worked well for me after a bit of practice. I think the secret of the right consistency is the temperature of the pan. First I tried to make thinner cakes and then I discovered if the pan is hot enough that the first layer sets when you swill it around the pan, then the roll comes out in the perfect consistency and thickness.

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad you got the hang of it! And thanks for sharing your experience and the tips you picked up. I'll try that out myself too! (:

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  19. TQ for sharing such a palatable memory on your version of CCF. This was some brekkie i once used to have almost daily between 6:30 & 7 am before heading for Primary class. And during recess time, we have this option served again by another canteen vendor.... Ummmm. I recommended your page-link to another classmate whom I hope, will emulate your recipes for he too can cook as he does with passion in Canada... This is for "James" from PEES, Singapore. :)

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    1. Glad to hear your lovely childhood memory of ccf, especially amused that you even remember what time of the day you had it haha. Thanks for sharing the link, and I hope you/your friend have fun recreating this!Do let me know how it goes, and hope to see you trying other recipes too(:

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  20. Thanks for sharing this recipe! :) It's really hard to find good chee cheong fun in Perth (maybe I'm not looking in the right shops..). So excited to try this out this weekend! :)

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  21. Thanx thanx so much..i lov u : )

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    Replies
    1. wow how sweet- thank you, lots of love too :)

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  22. Hi Shu Han, thanks for the post! You must get this alot, but your blog is a saviour for homefoodie-sick sporeans- so kamsias alot! I used to get my fix via bahn cuon on shoreditch high street, but vietnamese is rare to come by in oxford..... I made the sauce today and wanted to ask you what the viscosity of the sauce should be like? Mine turned out with a pouring consistency of dark soy sauce and the oils didnt quite mix in... is it suppose to be like dat? The taste was good, but quite different from what I remember from my local market back home, which i suspect is made from soy bean ... but who knows?

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    1. Hi shin shin! Pfft, I don't get comments like this everyday, and it's always always so good to hear from people like you! That sounds about right. I mentioned in the post that I don't like the sweet sauce that comes with chee cheong fun, so this is the version that I came up with (that I like). If you want the taste from back home, try this: simmer 1 part dark soy sauce, 3 parts soy sauce, 8 parts hoisin sauce with some water, till thickened. I got it from some blog I can't remember the name of now..

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    2. Shin Shin and Shu Han, I left out dark soy sauce but add sesame oil to the sauce. Hope you enjoy it. @ Shu Han, good job on your passion on food, you are awesome!

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    3. Oh yes! A fragrant oil is super important to the mix to help the sauce 'glide'. If you can use toasted shallot oil, even better. And WAH THANK YOU ANON :)

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  23. Thanks for the tip Shu Han and anon. I'm building up courage to try it again, this time using your FULL recipe and making the cheong fun from scratch !!!

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  24. Thank you so much! We live in Dubai and crave for Malaysian food like this which even money cannot buy!

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    1. Yay! Cheers for this Bryan! (Sorry for incredibly late reply)

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  25. Hi, I loved when I finally found an easy receipe to cook it. I love this dish so much but since I'm from south america, it is not common to find someone to teach me how to cook this kind of things. I only knew that it was made of rice flour and luckily I found some in a little market some days ago and I decided to find a way to cook this beloved dish but... I've tried and tried and something is not working... I don't know if the flour must be glutinous, non-glutinous or it could work with any of them. Do you know?

    Amy

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    1. Hello Amy! You must use non-glutinous rice flour, the glutinous or sticky rice will be impossible to work with! Also remember the touch of tapioca starch (even better, wheat starch) to keep it more elastic and easier to make! Good luck and let me know how this goes! x

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  26. Hey, I just wanted you to know I tried out your recipe and it came out smooth and glossy just the way Rice Noodle Rolls normally come when I get dim sum. I used tapioca starch since wheat starch was a difficult find. This is going to be my go-to recipe when I have a craving. :)

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  28. Wow! wonderful post! what a nice picture. Way too tempting. Yum! I don't have an outdoor grill, but well now I know I can try in my oven too, so I'm gonna try it out very very soon chinese food

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  29. That looks really delicious! It's one of my favorites thank you for shearing this information.....
    please visit in this site for kathi roll which is very good in looking and test....
    chowringhee

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  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

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