Chinese Food Char kway teow, literally "stir-fried ricecake strips", is a popular noodle dish in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. The dish was (and still is in some places in Malaysia) typically prepared at a hawker stall.
It is made from flat rice noodles (河粉 hé fěn in Mandarin Chinese) of approximately 1 cm or (in the north of Malaysia) about 0.5 cm in width, stir-fried over very high heat with light and dark soy sauce, chilli, a small quantity of belachan, tamarind juice, whole prawns, deshelled cockles, bean sprouts and chopped Chinese chives. The dish may commonly be stir-fried with egg, slices of Chinese sausage and fishcake, and less commonly with other ingredients. Char koay teow is traditionally stir-fried in pork fat, with crisp croutons of pork lard, and commonly served on a piece of banana leaf on a plate.
Char kway teow has a reputation of being unhealthy due to its high saturated fat content. However, when the dish was first invented, it was mainly served to labourers. The high fat content and low cost of the dish made it attractive to these people as it was a cheap source of energy and nutrients. When the dish was first served, it was often sold by fishermen, farmers and cockle-gatherers who doubled up as char kway teow pedlars in the evening to supplement their income.
In Indonesia, the dish is served in Chinese restaurants and traveling street hawker, and locally known as Kwetiau Goreng (Indonesian: fried flat rice noodles). The Indonesian char kway teow is less oily, using no lard, and normally incorporating beef or chicken to cater the majority Muslim population. However, some Chinese restaurants in Indonesia do use pork fat.
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