Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Chinese steamed rice sheet noodles.
This was originally posted shortly after Thanksgiving in 2011.



One cup plain rice flour.
Quarter cup tapioca flour.
Two TBS cornstarch.
Two TBS oil.
Half a teaspoon salt.
Cold water.

Sift dry ingredients together. Slowly stir water into it, add the oil, and keep adding more water while stirring till you have a batter that looks like heavy cream - approximately 1¾ to 2¼ cups water in all.
Let it stand an hour, re-stir. It is now ready for use.

Grease a pie pan, ladle in enough batter to thinly cover the bottom, and place in the steamer. After about a minute to a minute and a half, add the filling along one side. Steam for another four to six minutes, depending on how thick your layers are. Remove the pie pan from the steamer, and prepare a second pan while the first one cools.
As soon as you have added a filling to the second cheung fan, separate the first one from its pan with a flexible spatula, rolling as you go. Proceed in this manner till all the batter is used up. There should be about eight or nine cheung fan stacked on the plate when you're done. Drizzle a little sesame oil over for fragrance, slash into segments to show the filling, and garnish with minced scallion.


The traditional fillings are thin slivers of of beef (remember to rinse a bit, or soak in a little rice wine briefly to remove that charnel-house fragrance that adheres to the meat), or very fresh shrimp, peeled and veined, or even minced fresh cilantro, which will lend a soft fruity-herby-floral tone to the noodly sheets.
Chopped char-siu or rehumidified dry shrimp also can.

But you could experiment. I often use dried mushroom and codfish silk jerky re-humidified and chopped, with an equal amount of lap cheung (臘腸), and a bit of finely minced of ginger.
The filling should be slightly savoury, slightly sweet, nicely fresh tasting, and not too much. Only a tablespoon or two per noodle sheet.

NOTE: The amount of tapioca flour can be reduced, replaced with a quantity of glutinous rice flour, or it may even be increased slightly. It depends on the mouthfeel that you wish to achieve. An all rice flour batter yields a noodle that isn't very interesting and lacks the tacky toothsomeness that you like. The oil which is added to the batter sweats out slightly during steaming, thus making it easier to lift the cheung fan off the cooking surface.

The same batter can be used for Teochew-style char kwee teow ('fried cake noodle': 炒粿條). Just steam the sheets without any fillings, peel them off the surface, and cut them into broad strips. After cooling they may be used for stir-fried rice noodles with clams, shrimp, and oysters, and bean sprouts. Use pork fat to fry it for that authentic Teochew flavour. Add minced scallion (or chives) and a thin omelette cut into strips, plus some sweet soy sauce and chili paste, and serve it hot from the pan.

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