By Wilfred Pilo
KUCHING, May 31: The savoury Cantonese Rice Noodle Roll, better known locally as Chee Cheong Fun, is a popular light meal among city folks.
It is a breakfast favourite but it can also be taken as a snack any time of the day.
It is interesting to note that in Cantonese, ‘chee cheong fun’ means pig intestine noodle roll due to its resemblance to a pig’s intestine.
Despite its name, the dish actually comprises a thin layer of flour batter cooked with steam and usually filled with savoury prawn or pork meat, vegetables and other ingredients.
Before devouring the dish, it is best to drizzle sweetened soy sauce onto it.
Chee Cheong Fun is amazingly delectable and mouth-watering despite its seeming simplicity. For one with a hefty appetite, a plateful might be insufficient.
If you have a profound interest in maintainng your waistline, this succulent rice noodle roll is something that may keep you in that shape.
To find out more about the dish, this writer recently spoke with Chee Cheong Fun stall operator Liling Lai Siaw Chui at a well-known eatery in the city.
“This dish is popular in West Malaysia. It always goes with Dim Sum. Whenever people eat Dim Sum, they are also likely to order Chee Cheong Fun.
“These dishes are all considered light snacks and nice for breakfast or a quick meal. There are a wide variety of flavours with Chee Cheong Fun as one of them,” added the former seamstress.
Lai pointed out that the dish could also be savoured on its own.
“I learned to prepare and make the dish four years from a West Malaysian man who is an expert in making Chee Cheong Fun.
“At the beginning of the venture, I was worried as the dish was not so popular. City folks here prefer our local Chinese food. But I remained optimistic and continue to do it,” she revealed.
“The dish has a unique taste and flavour. For that reason, people want to order it as a meal.”
Lai said that in recent years, locals have started acquiring a taste for the dish and have gradually adopted it as part of their usual menu.
“This has brought my business to another level. I did not regret acquiring the knowledge of making the dish. It was worthwhile.
Lai revealed that patrons of her stall prefer either the pork or prawn or a mixture of the two fillings in their Chee Cheong Fun.
“As for the older patrons, they prefer plain Chee Cheong Fun.
“They don’t want any filling but eat the dish with the dressing and relish,” she revealed.
Lai said the dish is a healthy breakfast or meal for any time of the day.
“It is a very light meal on its own. It can be served fast to a patron as the preparation only takes minutes. I think that is one of the reasons it has been accepted by patrons.
The batter used to make the steamed roll or crepe is a mixture of rice, corn or tapioca flour with water.
“My recipe for it is slightly different. I use a mixture of water, rice flour and egg white. It creates a softer texture. The roll just kinds of melt when being eaten and it is not sticky,” she added.
Lai also shared how she cooks the almost translucent roll.
“To make the thin skin, we scoop the batter mixture onto a permeable cloth over steaming equipment.
“After the mixture sets from being cooked, we place it on the preparation table, scrape the surface and add the fillings. We roll the skin and cut it into equal portions. We then put it on a plate and dress it with a savoury sauce and sasame seeds,” she revealed.
She disclosed that the pork or prawn fillings are seasoned with selected condiments to make the dish more tasty and palatable.
In addition to the sweet sauce dressing, Lai said that she makes shrimp-based relish to add a zing to her Chee Cheong Fun.
“Our local people love the shrimp relish that we make ourselves. We take about three hours to prepare it. It adds flavour to the dish.
“Regular patrons do ask for extra relish and dressing sauce. That makes the dish even more palatable.
“Sometimes people used hoisin sauce which is sweet and salty in taste. In Hong Kong, patrons prefer a saltier dressing, while Malaysian like it sweet,” she revealed.
“Whatever is their preference, we will try our best to present flavours that our patrons love. Chee Cheong Fun has a place among food lovers here. We will improve on the variety,” she said.
Apart from serving Chee Cheong Fun, Lai’s stall located at 4th Mile The Best Corner Cafe also offers a wide variety of Dim Sum. — DayakDaily