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Cheung fun (肠粉)- How to make it at home

Cheung fun (肠粉) is on the menu of every Dim Sum restaurant. It is the most popular item apart from the famous triumvirate of dim sum quintessential- Shrimp Dumpling, Shumai, and Char Siu Bao.

Cheung fun has a light and soft texture, non-oily, and is served hot right from the steamer.  You only need simple ingredients to make it, primarily a batter of rice flour and some shrimp and char siu, or served right with a savory sauce consisting of premier-grade soy sauce and some sugar.  This lightly flavored dim sum is most suitable to satisfy the palate of diners during breakfast, who prefer food that is light and easy to digest.

Learn how to make Cheung Fun (肠粉) with a square pan and simple shrimp and char siu.. You can now enjoy your favorite dim sum at home.

The dim sum chef in the restaurant uses a tailor-made steamer with a large cover and cotton cloth (the unique kitchen tool). In this article, I want to explore the best way to make Cheung Fun at the home of the same quality as the restaurant. It must be quick and easy; otherwise, I prefer enjoying the nearest dim sum store without going through the hassle of making it myself.

Note: Cheung fun is also called chee Cheung fun, cheong fun, steamed rice roll, or 猪肠粉, which are referred to the same rice roll.

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1. How to prepare Cheung Fun at home

Below is the step-by-step guide to making the Cheung Fun at home.  This recipe will yield the Cheung Fun, similar to those you enjoy in the Hong Kong Dim Sum restaurants.

Here are the steps :

  • Mix the rice flour, wheat starch, salt, vegetable oil, and water in a container. 
  • Set up the steaming station. 
  • Apply some oil onto the baking pan, or you can use a non-stick pan instead.
  • Measure 100g of the batter. It is the amount required for an 8”x8” square pan. Make sure you stir the batter before pouring it because the flour and starch will sink to the bottom quickly.
  • Bring the water to boil. 
  • Pour the batter into the pan. Adjust the level of the pan so that the batter is equally distributed.
  • Add the filling of your choice (shrimp, char siu, or scallion with dried shrimp) to one side of the batter. You do not need to wait until it is solidified before adding the ingredients.  It should be a single layer so that the filling is embedded firmly into the noodle sheet.
  • Cover and steam for 2 minutes or until the rice sheet become translucent. 
  • Remove the pan from the steamer with a steamer gripper.
  • Let cool for half a minute, then push the noodle sheet with the dough scraper to roll up the noodle. 
  • Place it on the serving dish and doused with the sauce. Serve. 

2. Common fillings for Hong Kong-style Cheung Fun

The most common filling for the Hong Kong Style Cheung Fun is shrimp and Char Siu. Another popular variation at where I live is scallion with dried shrimp. 

a) Marinate the shrimps

  • Clean, unshelled and devein the shrimp as usual. 
  • Wash it with plenty of water until the water runs clear. 
  • Add some baking soda and salt and marinate the shrimp for half an hour. Baking soda increases the shrimp’s pH and helps retain the moisture to make it plump, and salt will make it more crunchy.
  • Wash away the baking soda and the extra salt.
  • Give it a few rough chops so that it is small enough to stick firmly on the noodle sheet during steaming.  

b) Use store-bought char siu (or make it yourself)

I suggest you use the store-bought Char Siu to save time. Please refer to this article if you’d like to make it yourself. 

c) Ingredeints for the scallion and dried shrimp Cheung Fun

  • Cut the scallion into small rings.
  • Soak the dried shrimp in hot water for 10 minutes. Remove any debris and shell that may present. Drain. 
  • Coarsely chopped the dried shrimps, and is ready to use.

3. Prepare the sauce

The sauce for the Cantonese Cheung Fun is made up mainly of light soy sauce and sugar. Other than that, sesame oil and oyster sauce are sometimes included, which is quite similar to Char Siu sauce’s taste. 

I have tested a few combinations before finalizing the recipe for my Cheung Fun. 

Formula B is the best. I think it is using oyster sauce, scallion, and ginger in the formula. Formula A is also quite tasty and is quick to make. Formula C and D are not desirable. 

How to prepare the sauce:

It is straightforward to prepare the sauce. Just add all the ingredients to a small pan and bring it to a boil. For formula B, you need to pass the sauce through a wire mesh strainer to remove the scallion and ginger. 

Learn how to make Cheung Fun (肠粉) with a square pan and simple shrimp and char siu.. You can now enjoy your favorite dim sum at home.

In search of the best recipe for Cheung Fun

If you search for the recipe of Cheung Fun on the internet, you will find that there are different formulas for Cheung Fun. It ranges from using only water and rice to the more complicated one added with a range of starches.

Use rice flour to make Cheung Fun

The make-from-scratch method involves soaking and grinding rice. I considered this is too much work for any home cook. Therefore, I choose to use ready-made rice flour instead. It is called 粘米粉 in Chinese and not to get confused with the glutinous rice flour.   

All you need is to add some salt and oil to form a batter, spread it thinly on a pan, and steam. 

Two differences among the common recipes

The key difference is the type of starch added to the rice batter, which varies from tapioca starch, wheat starch, and cornstarch.  The amount also varies from merely twenty percent of the rice flour to eighty percent.

The second difference is using a baking pan to steam the Cheung Fun versus the traditional method of pouring the batter on a cotton cloth.

How do I formulate my Cheung Fun recipe

Curious to know the difference, I have tested six different formulas by altering the amount and types of starch in the formulas. I also tested the impact of changing the amount of water in the batter.  Finally, I tested the result using the cloth method versus the pan method with the same formula.

All the formulas tested are with the cloth method except Formula F. A taste test was carried out by five-person, and below is the result. This test is not a scientific study, but it does shed light on me to formulate the best recipe that suits me.

The result of my experiment:

  • Formula A. It contains the highest amount of starch and has a very chewy texture.
  • Formula B. The amount of starch is much lower (20% of the rice flour), which has a softer and less chewy texture.  It is close to the texture of Cheung Fun in most of the Hong Kong-style dim sum restaurants.
  • Formula C. The amount of starch is between formula A and B. It is still chewy, based on the consensus from five of us.
  • Formula D. The formula is identical to B, except the batter has more water. So far, this is the best formula.  The texture is soft, nearly melts in the mouth, and is slightly chewy.  
  • Formula E. There is no added starch in this formula. It is acceptable, but the texture is slightly softer than D. 
  • Formula F.  The purpose of this formula is to test the quality of Cheung Fun of the same formula with the pan method. This formula is identical to E, and the only difference is steam by pouring the batter directly into a metal pan. 

Interpretation of the result:

  • The formula added with 20% starch yields the Cheung Fun closest to the texture from those serving in the Cantonese dim sum restaurant.
  • The type of starch does not significantly affect the texture and taste of the Chung Fun. 
  • Starch makes the Cheung Fun chewier, more resilient to force, and, therefore, less likely to break. 
  • The amount of water in the batter affects the softness of the Cheung Fun.  The more diluted batter yields softer Cheung Fun. 
  • The texture is too soft if we do not add some starch into the batter, although the rice flour I used is already added with some corn starch (without mentioning the quantity on the package).
  • The result by using the cloth method and pan method is quite identical.
  • You can alter the amount of the starch and water to achieve the desired texture you want. In short, the Cheung Fun with more starch is chewier, and more water is softer.

The cloth method versus the pan method- which one is better? 

Have you watched how Cheung Fun is made in the dim sum restaurant? 

They use a special rectangle steamer with perforated holes, big enough to make two servings of Cheung Fun. Some bigger restaurants have two steamers. While the rice roll is cooked in the first steamer, he will add the batter to the second steamer. The concurrent use of two steamers can yield a total of 4 rice rolls in 4 minutes. 

I get the Cheong Fun cloth from my kitchenware supplier (here I am in Malaysia), but it may not be readily available at certain places. You can make one by using a piece of 100% cotton cloth (or cheesecloth) as a substitute. An old cotton bedsheet or pillowcase is the right candidate.

Left: The steamer with perforated holes and the white Cheung Fun cloth. Right: The nonstick baking pan

The baking pan method is my choice for homemade rice rolls because I do not need to buy the special Cheung Fun cloth, which is hard to find. You can make it yourself (100% white thin cotton cloth), but is it worth the time.  Furthermore, It is easier to roll the noodle with a non-stick pan than the cloth.  

How to keep Cheung Fun

Cheung Fun is best to serve while it is fresh. It has a smooth and nearly melts in the mouth texture. It is still good after keeping for some time, although it will firm up slightly.

Suppose you want to consume it later, cover and keep in the refrigerator. Steams it over high heat for one or two minutes, and the texture is nearly as good as fresh. Do not freeze it because it will alter its texture. 

Yield: 5 Cheung Fun

Cheung Fun - How to make steamd rice roll (肠粉)

Cheung Fun image thumbnail

Cheung fun (肠粉) is on the menu of every Dim Sum restaurant. Cheung fun has a light and soft texture, non-oily, and is served hot right from the steamer. Cheung fun has a light and soft texture, non-oily, and is served hot right from the steamer.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

The batter: (A)

  • 100g rice flour
  • 20g wheat starch
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of vegetable oil
  • 400 ml of water (1.5 cups)

The filling: (B)

The sauce: (C)

Instructions

  1. Mix A in a container. Cheung fun - batter
  2. Set up the steaming station. Bring the water to a boil. Measure 100g of the batter. Stir and pour it into an 8”x8” square pan. Adjust the level of the pan so that the batter is equally distributed.
  3. Add the filling in B (shrimp, char siu, or scallion with dried shrimp) to one side of the batter.
  4. Cover and steam for 2 minutes or until the rice sheet become translucent.
    Let cool for half a minute, then push the noodle sheet with the dough scraper to roll up the noodle.
  5. To make the sauce: add C into a pan. Bring it to a boil, then strain to remove the ginger and scallion.
  6. Place it on the serving dish and doused with the sauce. Serve.Cheung fun - serve

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

5

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 205Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 1421mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 2gSugar: 8gProtein: 8g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 10/1/2020

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K L Ong

Friday 16th of April 2021

I love rice roll and make it often at home. My problem is I find my rice roll quite sticky in texture even though I steamed it for up to 5 min. Could it be due to the aluminium made steaming pan I used that caused it to be sticky as if undercooked? or other reasons?Would appreciate your expert advice. Thanks

KP Kwan

Saturday 17th of April 2021

Hi Ong, I would try the following: - If it is sticky due to too much batter, I will suggest using less so that it cooks through in a shorter time. (thinner) - If it is still too sticky, try to use less water. But I do not think the aluminum pan is the problem. I did use the pan and the cloth method, and they came out nearly identical. If the problem persists, try to get a pan with a non-stick surface. KP Kwan

Jann

Saturday 13th of February 2021

Hi KP After reading your recipe, I find that it is close to those found in dim sum restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. Am eager to try it out. Do you think I can use arrowroot flour instead of wheat starch? Will it change the texture? By the way, do anyone know where I can buy ngaku chips? Thank you

KP Kwan

Sunday 14th of February 2021

Hi Jann I have not tried using arrowroot flour, but based on the high content of starch in arrowroot, I think it should work quite the same as wheat starch. Let give it a try and eager to know the outcome! You can also use cornstarch. As for nagku, I am living in Kuala Lumpur, so it is quite easy to get. KP Kwan

Kat

Tuesday 5th of January 2021

I searched for a cheong fun recipe and chose yours because you already did the test/research about the starches and compared the baking pan and cloth method, so saved me some time. Looking forward to using your recipe and tips! :)

KP Kwan

Tuesday 5th of January 2021

All the best, and I hope it turns out well.

Elsa Lock

Sunday 11th of October 2020

Thanks for sharing this delicious Cheung Fun step by step recipe.

KP Kwan

Monday 12th of October 2020

You are welcome :)

Sally Teoh-Montgomery

Monday 5th of October 2020

Hi KP, thank you for your recipes and I will definitely try this Cheong Fun recipe. It is amazing that you take such time and patience with showing us how to cook and to even experiment them (and telling us the results in comparison) to get the best taste and texture. I love cooking and I can say that I would have printed more than 90% of your recipes. Keep up the zest for cooking and enjoy life! I am a Malaysian in Australia.

KP Kwan

Monday 5th of October 2020

Hi Sally, Thanks for using my recipes all this time. All the best in making the Cheung Fun and stay safe. KP Kwan

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