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Char Hor Fun

Though the dish may look simple at first glance, the myriad of tastes in each mouthful proves it is anything but that.

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Char hor fun is a dish consisting of flat white noodles made from rice flour which have been stir fried briefly in a hot wok, topped with a sauce made from starch and eggs. The flat white noodles, also known as hor fun in Cantonese or kuey teow in Hokkien, are added into the boiling gravy together with pieces of chicken or pork meat, fish cake, prawns and vegetables like mustard greens. The Penang version of char hor fun differs slightly than the Kuala Lumpur version, with the former's gravy being darker in colour without eggs, whereas the latter's gravy is clearer with more starch and eggs added into it. Due to this, it is no wonder that the same dish is known as Wat tan hor (literally translated as 'smooth eggs') in Kuala Lumpur. To achieve the smooth effect, the heat is turned off as soon as the eggs are stirred into the gravy to avoid becoming overcooked and lumpy.

The preparation of the dish is simple and straightforward, but if prepared by an amateur it will not measure up to the standards of more experienced chefs. As one of the steps in making char hor fun involves frying the flat noodles in a heated wok with a sprinkle of oil, it takes experience to know just how long to fry this dish in order to lend it a smoky taste. If it is fried for too long, diners will taste a burnt tinge in the noodles. But if the frying time is too short, the flat noodles will not have the desired taste and texture. There is also an art to preparing the gravy for the char hor fun: making sure that it is neither too thin nor too thick. It is these two factors that avid char hor fun eaters look out for when selecting their own favourite stall or restaurant.

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