Beef noodles



Several varieties of beef noodles exist in Singapore, but the term usually refers to a soup-based dish made of kway teow (flat rice noodles) accompanied with either thinly sliced lean beef, beef tripe and other innards, or beef balls.1 The beef broth is often clear and sometimes has added spices. It may also be served dry and topped with a thick gravy.2 The dish is often eaten with a specially concocted chilli sauce.3 The best-known beef noodles in Singapore are the Teochew and Hainanese versions.4

Description
Thinly sliced beef is quickly scalded in a beef stock and served slightly underdone to ensure tenderness.5 The dish can also be served with yellow egg noodles or chor bee hoon (thick rice vermicelli).6 Sometimes, beef balls made of minced beef and starch are also added to the dish, as well as other cuts of beef such as tripe, tendon, brisket or flank.7 The dish is served either dry or in soup. When served dry, the noodles are drenched in a thick gravy made of beef stock, spices, herbs and soy sauce.8 Served on the side is a piquant chilli sauce that enhances the taste of the beef.


Although the dish is said to have originated from Swatow (Shantou) in Guangdong province, China, the more popular varieties available in Singapore are influenced by both the Teochew and Hainanese communities.10

Teochew beef noodles
In the Teochew version, the noodles are served in soup.11 The broth is brewed with beef bones before kway teow is added with slices of beef and beef innards. Traditionally, the beef extract Bovril was added to the stock, and extras such as beef tongue, beef tripe or gu piang (bull’s penis) were offered as well. The dish was originally served with only kway teow and topped with salted vegetable and ground nuts.12 There is also a dry version where the kway teow is mixed with sesame oil, soy sauce and chilli; thick gravy is not usually added.13


One of the earliest beef noodle stalls in Singapore was Hock Lam Street Beef Kway Teow, which was started in 1921 by Tan Chin Sia.14 Its name was derived from its location at Hock Lam Street, near Capitol Cinema. Tan’s sons, Anthony and Francis, had set up rival stalls at Far East Square and Purvis Street respectively.15 Anthony claimed to have created the dry version of the noodles in the 1980s.16 Other family members are also known to have opened their own stalls serving this Teochew version of the dish.17

Hainanese beef noodles
The Hainanese-style beef noodles, called gu bak kway teow, is generally served dry with soup on the side. The noodles are drizzled with a thick gravy made of beef stock, black soya sauce and sweet potato starch.18 The soup is rich and flavoured with various herbs and spices, the result of long hours of brewing.19 Besides slices of beef, the dish is often served with beef tripe, beef tendons and beef balls. The accompanying chilli sauce is made with squeezed lime and grated lengkua (galangal root) and enhanced with cincaluk (pickled shrimp).20


One of the earliest Hainanese beef noodle stalls in Singapore was started by Lee Suan Liang in the 1940s, but Kian Teck Huan is known to have popularised this version of beef noodles through his Odeon Beef Noodles stall, which was set up after World War II.21 Although a similar dish can be found in Heng Hai in Hainan, China, this version of beef noodles is considered a Singaporean innovation.22

Other versions
A variation of the Hainanese beef noodles is Seremban beef noodles. Introduced into Seremban around the 1940s by Hainanese immigrants, the dish is served dry with thick, white rice noodles in a thick sauce and garnished with sesame seeds, salted vegetables and peanuts. The stock used has been boiled with radish and carrots.23


The Hakka version features hand-rolled beef balls made of ground meat.24 The dish is usually served dry, its egg noodles topped with meat slices and beef balls.25 It may also be served with bee hoon or kway teow in a light, clear soup, and accompanied with beef balls and beef slices.26

Similar variants are found in the region, such as kueitiaw neua in Thailand and pho bo in Vietnam; both of which use kway teow.27

The Cantonese fry their version of beef noodles, known as beef hor fun or stir fried beef kway teow.28 It is considered best when marked by wok hei (“breath of the wok” in Cantonese), which gives the hor fun a robust flavour.29 The Cantonese have another version called ngow lam (braised beef) noodles, where the beef is braised so that it becomes succulent and tender.30

Variant names
Beef kway teow.31
Gu bak kway teowgoo bak kway teow.32 
Beef noodles (for the dry version), dry beef noodles.33

Ngou yuk fun (Cantonese).34



Author

Bonny Tan




References
1. Naleeza Ebrahim, & Yaw, Y. Y. (2006). Not just a good food guide: Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 96. (Call no.: RSING 647.955957 NAL)
2. Chan, M. (1984, April 29). Wait if you wish or go elsewhere. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Naleeza Ebrahim, & Yaw, Y. Y. (2006). Not just a good food guide: Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 96. (Call no.: RSING 647.955957 NAL)
4. Chan, M. (1988, July 17). Tripe and true story of a family legacy. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Oon, V. (1979, September 9). Sharing that family secret. The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Wan, R., & Hiew, R. (2010). There’s no carrot in carrot cake. Singapore: Epigram Books, p. 41. (Call no.: RSING 641.30095957 WAN)
7. Naleeza Ebrahim, & Yaw, Y. Y. (2006). Not just a good food guide: Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 96. (Call no.: RSING 647.955957 NAL)
8. Chan, M. (1988, July 17). Tripe and true story of a family legacy. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Gan, E. (2005, August 20). Star beef noodles a labour of love. Today, p. 27; Seetoh, K. F. (2008, July 11). My beef with Hainanese beef noodles. The New Paper, p. 29. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Teo, P. L. (2003, October 5). Going going. The Straits Times, p. 38; Chan, M. (1988, July 17). Tripe and true story of a family legacy. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Chan, M. (1988, July 17). Tripe and true story of a family legacy. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Tan, J. (2009, October 17). Here’s the beef. The Business Times, p. 37. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Tay, L. (2008, January 24). Empress Place beef kway teow: Teochew beef kway teow got no gravy one! [Web log post]. Retrieved 2016, December 12 from ieatishootipost website: http://ieatishootipost.sg/2008/01/empress-place-beef-kway-teow-teochew.html
14. Teo, P. L. (2004, March 21). What’s the beef here? The Straits Times, p. L33. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Teo, P. L. (2003, October 19). What’s your beef? The Straits Times, p. 34. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Gan, E. (2007, May 19). Beefed up for business. Today, p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Teo, P. L. (2003, October 19). What’s your beef? The Straits Times, p. 34. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Oon, V. (1979, September 9). Sharing that family secret. The Straits Times, p. 15; Chan, M. (1988, July 17). Tripe and true story of a family legacy. The Straits Times, p. 4; Gan, E. (2005, August 20). Star beef noodles a labour of love. Today, p. 27. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Chan, M. (1988, July 17). Tripe and true story of a family legacy. The Straits Times, p. 4; Gan, E. (2005, August 20). Star beef noodles a labour of love. Today, p. 27. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Chan, M. (1984, April 29). Beef noodles with a Hainanese kick. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Oon, V. (1979, September 9). Sharing that family secret. The Straits Times, p. 15; Chan, M. (1988, July 17). Tripe and true story of a family legacy. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Chan, M. (1988, July 17). Tripe and true story of a family legacy. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Seetoh, K. F. (2008, July 11). My beef with Hainanese beef noodles. The New Paper, p. 29. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Teo, P. L. (2005, October 9). Hakka beef balls bounce back. The Straits Times, p. 27. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Tully, J. (2010, August 7). Bring out the beef. The Business Times, pp. 4–5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Teo, P. L. (2005, October 9). Hakka beef balls bounce back. The Straits Times, p. 27. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Cheong, S. (2006, May 27). Bull’s eye. New Straits Times. Retrieved from ProQuest via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
28. Tan, C., & Van, A. (2012). Chinese heritage cooking. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Cuisine, p. 42. (Call no.: RSING 641.595957 TAN); Tan, J. (2009, October 17). Here’s the beef. The Business Times, p. 37. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. 
29. Makansutra Singapore 2007: The frank & no frills guide to street food & restaurants in Singapore. (2006). Singapore: Makansutra (S) Pte Ltd, p. 35. (Call no.: RSING 647.955957 MEL-[DIR])
30. Mah, K. K. (1996, September 22). Make way for noodles man on wheels. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. Hooi, J. (1985). The guide to Singapore hawker food. Singapore: Hospitality Host, p. 19. (Call no.: RSEA 641.595957 HOO)
32. Tan, S. (2004). Singapore heritage food. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 77. (Call no.: RSING 641.595957 TAN); Chan, M. (1980, December 19). Good value for money. New Nation, pp. 16–17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
33. Wan, R., & Hiew, R. (2010). There’s no carrot in carrot cake. Singapore: Epigram Books, p. 41. (Call no.: RSING 641.30095957 WAN)
34. Cheong, S. (2006, May 27). Bull’s eye. New Straits Times. Retrieved from ProQuest via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/




The information in this article is valid as at 2011 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Noodles--Singapore
Ethnic foods
Cooking (Beef)--Singapore
Cooking, Singaporean
Ethnic Communities>>Food
Cookery>>International and regional cooking>>Chinese

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