If you’ve had dim sum, then you’ve surely seen or eaten chee cheong fun, or steamed rice noodle rolls filled with either Chinese BBQ pork or prawns, and served with a seasoned soy sauce. It’s one of the most common dim sum items. Because Cantonese food is the most popular and well-known Chinese cuisine in many countries, this Hong Kong style of chee cheong fun is probably what the majority of people are familiar with.
What many people aren’t aware of is that in Malaysia, chee cheong fun has evolved into a something quite different! Rice noodles are still the main ingredient, and the name remains the same, but depending on where you are in the country, you’ll find various versions of this dish. In Kuala Lumpur, the noodles are topped with a sweet brown sauce and eaten with fish cakes and fish balls. In Penang, it’s served with a thick shrimp paste (known as hei ko in Hokkien or petis udang in Malay). This version I’m posting here is what you’ll find in Ipoh, my family’s hometown, where you can also enjoy chee cheong fun with a mushroom sauce. Trust me – there are a lot more variations of this dish throughout Malaysia, including chee cheong fun with – no surprise – curry sauce!
This Ipoh version is probably the simplest way to serve chee cheong fun and, in my opinion, the most delicious! Growing up, this was the chee cheong fun that I was most familiar with because it’s the kind that my mum would make at home, and also what we’d have when we were in Ipoh. So admittedly, I’m probably a little biased!
I purchased the pre-cooked rice noodles in an Asian supermarket. I’ve seen dry rice noodles, but I’ve never tried them. I’m sure they’d be an acceptable substitute if you can’t get ready-cooked noodles.
Since I can’t get my hands on the sweet red sauce (“teem cheong”), I used hoisin sauce. My mum used to use an Indonesian or Malaysian brand of chilli sauce, but I didn’t have any luck finding that either, so I had to settle for Sriracha sauce. To my surprise, both of these substitutions worked and the noodles still tasted really good and pretty close to the real thing!
You can buy the fried shallots, but since you’ll need shallot oil too, it’s best just to make it yourself (unless you can find shallot oil, but I’ve never seen it sold in supermarkets). Cutting and frying the shallots was kind of time-consuming and took much longer than making the actual dish itself! However, if you’re going to go through the trouble of frying shallots, then I suggest you make lots of it so you’ll have plenty to last you for a while. Keep in mind that fried shallots can also be used as a garnish in many dishes, or added to salads. They make everything taste better!
Feel free to adjust the amounts of each ingredient to your preference. That’s the advantage of mixing your own plate of noodles. Some people prefer sweeter, or spicier, while others like me prefer the flavours to be balanced.
In my next post, I’ll show you how easy it is to make your own pickled green chillies!
Did you make this recipe?
I’d love to see your creations! Don’t forget to take a photo, tag it @divinelydelish on Instagram and hashtag it #divinelydelish 🙂
RICE NOODLES WITH SWEET AND SPICY SAUCE (CHEE CHEONG FUN) (Serves 4)
1100g cooked rice noodles (I used this brand)
4 tablespoons dried shrimp
4 tablespoons shallot oil (see below)
8 tablespoons hoisin sauce
8 tablespoons chilli sauce (use this or Sriracha)
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons pickled green chillies
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted (see below)
8 tablespoons fried shallots (see below)
Fried shallots and shallot oil:
Thinly slice 700 grams of shallots, then deep fry in 500 ml of a neutral oil, over medium-high heat. Fry in small batches. Use a fork or chopsticks to stir often, so that the rings separate and cook evenly. When they’re light brown in colour, use a slotted spoon or mesh skimmer to transfer shallots to a paper towel-lined tray or plate. Once cooled, store fried shallots in an airtight container. Strain the oil to remove debris and pour into a jar and store in a cool place. (You will get approximately 2.5 cups of fried shallots and about 450 ml of shallot oil.)
Toasted sesame seeds:
Place raw sesame seeds in a pan (without any oil), and dry fry them over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.
1. Place the shrimp in a bowl and set it on a steam stand or steamer basket, over a pot of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, let it steam for 2 to 3 minutes, then turn off the heat. You can keep the shrimp in the pot, covered, while you prepare the noodles.
2. Packaged cooked rice noodles tend to clump together, so carefully separate the noodles so there are no large clumps.
3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then briefly blanch the rice noodles, about 1 minute, or just until separated and softened. Do not overcook. Drain well and divide the noodles between 4 plates.
4. To each plate, add 1 tablespoon of dried shrimp, 1 tablespoon shallot oil, 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce, 2 tablespoons chilli sauce, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon pickled green chillies, 1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds and 2 tablespoons fried shallots. Mix thoroughly.