What is flat rice noodle?
Flat rice noodles also known as wide rice noodles or “Ho fun” in Chinese, are made of rice flour and water. Tapioca or corn starch are sometimes added into the ingredients for the transparency and gelatinous chewy texture of the rice noodles.
The flat rice noodles are 8-13mm wide and are typically used to prepare delicious dishes like Pad Thai, Pad See Ew, and Char Kway Teow. The rice noodles are originated from China and become spread out around the world since then it has become very popular in Southeast Asia.
What is Char Kway Teow?
Char Kway Teow (炒粿條) is a popular Chinese-inspired rice noodle dish from Southeast Asia. The word “Char” means “stir-fried” and “Kway Teow” refers to flat rice noodles. Typical Char Kway Teow ingredients other than the flat rice noodles include minced garlic, light and dark soy sauce, Chinese chives, bean sprouts, and eggs. Optional or additional ingredients to include are Chilli paste, shelled cockles, slices of Chinese sausage, whole prawns, thin chicken, or pork slices.
What causes flat rice noodles to stick together?
While making Char Kway Teow, you are likely to get the flat rice noodles sticking and clumping together if you do not know how to cook them the right way. Flat rice noodles tend to stick together when the starch coming out from the rice noodles while boiling makes them sticky. If you don’t constantly stir-fry the flat rice noodles or are not able to maintain the moisture of the ingredients, you are likely to get flat rice noodles sticking and clumping together.
How to avoid flat rice noodles from sticking or clumping together?
Based on research from popular chefs preparing delicious Char Kway Teow, here are some of the tips and tricks that are useful to prevent flat rice noodles from sticking together while stir-frying.
1. Rinse the noodles with water before stir-frying
Whether hot or cold water, rinsing the flat rice noodles with water will remove the starch around the rice noodles. Reducing starch within the rice noodles helps to prevent them from sticking together. Drain the rice noodle using a strainer before pouring them into the wok or pan for stir-frying. Do not worry that there will be too much water for stir-frying, you want to keep your noodles moist enough so that they do not dry off while stir-frying.
2. Constant stir-fry motion is the Key
Constantly stir-frying flat rice noodles is one of the most important parts when it comes to making Char Kway Teow. Most chefs use a medium to high heat when cooking Char Kway Teow. They constantly stir-fry the rice noodles with soy sauce and other ingredients to avoid them from sticking together.
Use a spatula to spread the flat rice noodles apart in the wok or pan, separating any clumping or sticky noodles. The wok is a good tool to use for stir-frying as it is usually bigger in size and has higher edges around compared to a frying pan. You do not have to worry that the noodles will be stirred off from the wok because the noodles will always slide back down to the center. Read more about wok vs. frying pan for stir-fry.
3. Maintain the moisture of the flat rice noodles and ingredients
While stir-frying flat rice noodles, you must constantly add in liquids (oil, sauces, or water) or ingredients that generate moisture like bean sprouts. Flat rice noodles tend to absorb liquid and easily dry off when you stir fry them in the hot wok.
Before adding in the flat rice noodles for stir-frying, make sure you have enough oil in the hot wok or pan. This will not only ensure that your noodles not sticking together, but it will also prevent them from sticking to the wok.
You have to also ensure you have plenty of sauces prepared ahead for the job too. As the flat rice noodles absorb sauces from the wok, you will need to add in more (whether it is light soy sauce or sambal) until you see that the moisture is maintained.
Constantly add in batches of bean sprouts from time to time while stir-frying will help to maintain the liquid in the wok too.
How to separate wide rice noodles?
If the fresh wide rice noodles that you bought from the store are already sticking or clumping together, you can still separate them with the following steps. Bring a pot of water to boil and soak the wide rice noodles into the boiling water for about 30 seconds. Gently stir the noodles in the water and they will start to separate from each other. Once they are separated, drain and rinse the rice noodles with tap water to remove excess starch. Spread some oil onto the rice noodles to prevent further sticking.