How to make Cantonese rice noodle rolls, or cheung fan, from scratch

Nov 22, 2019

You can find them all over Hong Kong, Guangdong, and Cantonese restaurants around the world. Rice noodle rolls, or cheung fan, are a staple of the dim sum table. They’re also quite hard to make.

Steamed rice noodle rolls, or cheung fan, are a staple of the dim sum table.

They’re slippery rolls of steamed rice flour, packed tightly with aromatics like scallions and cilantro and your choice of protein: slices of sweet barbecued pork, hefty chunks of shrimp, or ground beef.

Making rice noodle rolls in Hong Kong.
Making rice noodle rolls in Hong Kong. / Photo: South China Morning Post

We were told by an experienced dim sum chef that it’s an “entry-level” dish, but it’s actually quite tricky to make.

First, the process calls for a large steamer basket the size of a baking sheet, something that understandably not everyone has. Getting the right ratio of rice flour to water is also key to getting the desired consistency—firm but not too tough.

But if you’ve managed to get yourself a large steamer (and some nimble hands), we got this recipe for rice noodle rolls with pork from the Chinese Culinary Institute in Hong Kong, where they train students to become dim sum chefs.

Recipe

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For the oil spread

  • 300 grams of canola oil
  • 40 grams of ginger pieces
  • 40 grams of chopped scallions

 

For the rice noodle paste

  • 600 grams of rice flour
  • 80 grams of corn starch
  • 40 grams of peanut oil
  • 20 grams of salt
  • 2400 milliliters of water

 

For the filling

  • 600 grams of precooked barbecued pork pieces, preferably char siu, sliced thinly against the grain
  • 150 grams of chopped scallions
  • 100 grams of chopped cilantro

For the sauce

  • 250 grams of chicken broth
  • 300 grams of light soy sauce
  • 10 grams of dark soy sauce
  • 40 grams of fish sauce
  • 200 grams of granulated sugar
  • 40 grams of cilantro

Tools you’ll need

  • Silicone brush
  • Rectangular cotton cloth
  • Rectangular tray
  • Large steamer basket

 

  1. Heat a small frying pan over low heat. When hot, add the canola oil, ginger, and scallions. When the mixture becomes fragrant, turn off the heat, take out the ginger and scallions, and pour the oil into a small bowl. Set aside to cool.
  2. Combine the rice flour, corn starch, salt, and oil in a bowl. Mix evenly, and add 600 milliliters of water. Mix until it solidifies and becomes sticky. Then slowly add the rest the water until it turns into a paste. Make sure there are no clumps. Set aside.
  3. Prep the sauce by adding all of the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Simmer for 3 minutes. Remove and discard the cilantro. Set aside.
  4. Soak the cotton cloth in water and overlay it on a tray. Pour the rice noodle slurry over the cloth, and on top of the slurry, arrange the filling (char siu, scallions, and cilantro) into neat rows.
  5. Add water into the steamer basket. Put the tray on the steamer and steam for 2 minutes. When done, remove the tray and carefully lift up the cotton cloth, with the steamed rice noodle sheet on top.
  6. Brush oil onto a surface. A table or large wooden cutting board will work. Place the rice noodle sheet—with the cloth side up—onto the oiled surface. Now you can peel off the cloth, allowing the rice noodle sheet to stick to the surface.
  7. With the edge of a knife, fold the steamed rice noodle into a roll, and cut into bite-size pieces. Serve and dress with sweet soy sauce.
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Credit

Producers: Clarissa Wei and Venus Wu

Videographer: Hanley Chu 

Editor: Mario Chui

Animation: Ray Ngan

Mastering: Victor Peña