Nose-to-tail dining is an efficient and sustainable way of eating, and one good example is traditional Teochew kway chap (粿汁). Chop up various pig parts, braise it in spice-accented soya sauce and serve it with flat rice noodles topped with coriander and fried shallots.
It’s a simple hawker dish that is commonly found throughout Singapore, and is popular with the late-night supper crowd. Even though it’s a cholesterol bomb, we enjoy it once-in-a-while and used to walk to Lao San Kway Chap (老三粿汁) at Blk 232 Ang Mo Kio Ave 3, housed in the same block as the famous Mellben Seafood.
We recently found out that they deliver from a branch located together with Kian Seng Seafood, and have ordered it a few times for lunch over the past couple of months. But since they start operating from 8am onwards, we decided to have it for breakfast.
The first time we ordered from them, we chose their set meals that came with a pre-selected assortment. When it comes to pig parts, we have specific preferences — The Wife prefers the big intestines, I like the stomach and we both enjoy pork belly (who doesn’t?) — and so we made a surgical ala carte order.
It would have been fantastic if they also served the ears, but that’s unfortunately hard to find nowadays, so I compensated with additional portions of skin and feet to make it a
healthy well-rounded meal. Our order arrived within 30 minutes and came in takeaway plastic bags.
You know that their portions are generous when the food delivery person hands you the package. It was heavy, partially because of the soup for the noodles, but mainly because of the large amount of meat.
The Wife picked out an assortment of everything and plated our breakfast. In addition to the pig parts and noodles, there was also salted vegetables (菜尾) and chilli sauce that helped cut the heaviness of the meal.
The chilli deserves special mention because it’s not your typical watered-down version. It was thick, spicy, sour, sharp and, in my opinion, an essential part of any kway chap meal. But then again, I’m clearly biased because I like my food spicy.
Pork belly needs no introduction, but if you’re not familiar with kway chap, the other pig parts include the intestines, skin, trotters (i.e. feet) and stomach. You can also choose sliced fish cake, boiled eggs, tau pok and other porky bits that we didn’t order.
The intestines shown here are only the big intestines, but most kway chap stalls also sell small intestines (粉肠), which are slightly bitter, and the head of the big intestines (大肠头), which are usually very fatty. Cleaning pig intestines is a labourious task and, if not done thoroughly, results in a funky smell that can put people off. It’s intestines after all, and we all know what they contain.
Stomach is not commonly avaliable because it’s also hard to clean and prepare, perhaps even more so than intestines. You need to braise it a long time to make it tender and Lao San does it well. Likewise with the skin, which starts off hard but becomes delightfully soft after continuous boiling.
At this time, you might be thinking: “That doesn’t look like a lot of food.” And you would be right, except that we only had one-third of the order and kept the rest as leftovers. When supplemented with tau kwa and black fungus, they go particularly well with white porridge. We managed to make another two meals from the remaining portion, successfully amortising the delivery cost.
We’re consciously trying to eat healthier nowadays and kway chap is an occasional luxury, especially for the very first meal of the day. But when you’re able to draw down on your precious cholesterol quota, Lao San Kway Chap is definitely worth the hit.