Looking for nice Kway Chap near you?
If you enjoy eating at hawker centres, you may be familiar with Kway Chap — a humble and hearty dish comprising rice noodle sheets (kway) and herbal broth (chap), often served in a set with braised duck, pork belly, pig innards, beancurd, and hard boiled eggs.
As you savour the umami flavour of this local staple in a food court, you may be wondering: how can such a mouth-watering dish exist in Singapore? What goes into it? Can I make it at home by myself? Well, we’re here to surprise you and answer all your questions about our beloved Kway Chap!
#1: Did you know that Kway Chap is a Teochew dish?
Kway Chap has its roots in Chaoshan, China, and was brought over by Teochew people when they migrated to Singapore.
Before that, the initial form of what we call Kway Chap today dates way back to the Ming Dynasty 400 years ago — invented alongside paper production and bristle toothbrushes! As Chaoshan is located near the sea, the kway chap back then also contained seafood such as razor clams and dried scallops, alongside other meats and vegetables.
#2: It can take a whopping 5 hours to prepare
Looks can be deceiving, so don’t let the simple look of Kway Chap fool you. This dish takes hours to make — just ask Jon! Preparation usually begins with cleaning the innards, which is a lengthy and repetitive process that requires practice and patience.
After cleaning, the innards, meats, and other sides are boiled with spices such as five-spice powder, cinnamon, cloves, and anise for at least an hour or two. Some hawkers actually arrive at their stalls as early as 4 a.m. to ensure that these rich flavours are thoroughly infused into the broth. Try making it yourself if you’re up for a challenge!
#3: Good kway should never stick together
Time to bring out your inner food critic! One way to tell if your Kway Chap is really good is if the slippery sheets of kway are fully separated and not stuck together. Chewy and clumpy kway just doesn’t have that sumptuous, classic silky mouthfeel, unless that’s your thing.
Don’t know where to find good Kway Chap? Here’s a few places selling good Kway Chap in Singapore, some late into the night — perfect for any sudden supper cravings. Our personal favourite midnight Kway Chap haunt is Ah Nian Braised Duck Rice & Kway Chap; try it and tell us what you think!
#4: DIY Kway Chap is not that hard to make, and can be tailored to your tastebuds
We totally get it if the 5-hour prep time throws you off. To reduce the time taken, try asking your local wet market butcher if they have pre-cleaned innards. That way, you save time on the prep, and can still tailor the soup and sides to your liking. Craving an extra salty and thick broth? We’re not judging!
If you learn how to make Kway Chap yourself, you can add and omit ingredients to your liking and cook yourself a dish that your tastebuds will 100% thank you for.
Preparation Time: 5 hours. Serves 4.
#5: Chilli gives it an amazing kick!
Alright, this may be personal preference and not fact, but there’s no denying that the Kway Chap chilli is just as essential as the Kway Chap itself or the sides. Some Kway Chap stalls even offer as many as three different kinds of chilli, such as chilli padi in soy sauce, sambal belacan, and chilli garlic sauce.
The type of chilli can drastically influence the flavour profile of the same bowl of Kway Chap, so you can switch up your meal with different chillis and never get bored. Or don’t include it at all, if you don’t give a chap. Hehe.
#6: Singapore is not the only country you can get your Kway Chap fix
Kway Chap can be found in other countries, too — it might just look a little different. In Chaoshan, China, the rice noodles are served in a white broth made with a combination of rice milk and water.
Meanwhile in Thailand, the noodle sheets are rolled and dished up in a clear broth flavoured with Thai spices and pepper.
In Penang, Malaysia, duck offal and meat make up the sides instead of pork.
Despite their differences in taste and presentation, these Kway Chap variations all feature a bowl of piping, soupy rice noodles! Try them if you get the chance to see how it matches up against our familiar favourite.
Kway Chap Singapore
As one of the hawker culture centrepieces of our metropolis today, Kway Chap is a dish that is deeply ingrained in Singapore’s food culture. When you relish your next bowl of Kway Chap, perhaps you’ll feel a renewed sense of appreciation for our Kway Chap hawkers who pour their heart and soul into their cooking. Or you may even feel inspired to try making it yourself — share your creation with us on the Meatmen FB Group!
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