Chee Cheong Fun: The Rice Noodle Dish that Showcases Malaysians' Creativity
Chee Cheong Fun 猪肠粉 is a specialty dish in Malaysia that was introduced by Chinese immigrants from Guangdong in the 19th century. It is essentially steamed rice flour sheets which are rolled into a tube form and served with sauce. Chee Cheong Fun literally translates to “pig intestine rice noodles” in Cantonese due to its look and shape. In English, it is simply known as rice noodle rolls or its initials CCF.
Chee Cheong Fun is already a very well-known Guangdong dish. When it was introduced to Malaysia in the 19th century, it was embraced and quickly adopted by the locals as one of their own, and evolved into something uniquely Malaysian. In its traditional form, Chee Cheong Fun is usually served in most dim sum restaurants with a choice of Char Siu (BBQ pork) or shrimp filling, and served with soy sauce. Nowadays, Chee Cheong Fun has turned into a blank canvas for Malaysians’s creativity where huge variety of sauces and toppings can be found in different parts of the country. Different vendors have their choice of ingredients, hoping that their version will put their shop on the food map.
For example, in Penang, Chee Cheong Fun is served with “hae ko”, which is a type of shrimp paste in Hokkien dialect. Whereas in Ipoh, two main versions of this dish are served – dry and wet noodles. The dry version is mixed with bright red sweet sauce. Chilli sauce and pickled green chilli are added into the mix to please Malaysians’ palate for spicy food. For the wet version, it is usually served with minced meat and mushroom gravy. There is also a variation more commonly found in Klang Valley and Ipoh, where the Chee Cheong Fun is influenced by the Hakka communities. Ingredients such as fish cake and fish balls are added and then topped off with curry sauce.
To make the basic Chee Cheong Fun rolls, the ingredients needed are just rice flour, tapioca starch, and water. By mixing the ingredients together, the batter for Chee Cheong Fun is ready. The batter is scooped onto a flat, preheated baking tray whether it will be steamed and turn into a thin sheet of rice noodle. The rice noodle sheet is then removed from the baking tray and rolled into a tube shape. The final step is just topping it off with the desired sauce and toppings.
Although the steps of making Chee Cheong Fun look simple, it is absolutely not easy. It is a tedious process that takes years of practice to master the making of Chee Cheong Fun from scratch. Fortunately, today prepackaged fresh rice rolls are available at many Asian grocery stores. It tends to harden with refrigeration but steaming it for a few minutes will make it soft again.
Chee Cheong Fun can be found in Chinese restaurants, street stalls and night market. It is often served as a delicious side dish, together with many other dishes.