Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Char Kway Teow (Stir-Fried Rice Noodles)

Char Kuey Teow is basically stir-fried flat rice noodles with shrimps, cockles, chinese sausage (lap cheong), eggs, bean sprouts and chives / scallion in a mix of soy sauce with tinge of sambal chilli . Now, it sounds really easy but it is not so easy to get a well stir-fried Char Kway Teow. The key is to get the charred aroma when stir-frying over a high heat in a well seasoned Chinese Wok. We call it "Wok Hei" or "Aroma / Breath from the Wok". I guess when done right, the wok gives out a well blended charred aroma that fuse all the ingredients together. And the result, an irresistable plate of Char Kway Teow done right!

This dish is extremely popular in Malaysia sold in every hawker stall, restaurants and hotels too. It is almost like the signature dish of Penang island. Infact, the good ones all over Malaysia would name the dish as Penang Char Kway Teow.

There are techniques required to ensure you can make a delicious Char Kway Teow at home. I am still learning and sometimes I get it right, sometimes not. I can only impart some techniques I know of but even with that, it takes practise to perfect this dish.

Tips to make a great Char Kway Teow :-
1. Ensure wok is hot before even adding oil. Throughout the stir-fry, it is important wok is very hot. If wok is not hot enough, you cannot get the ingredients to penetrate fast on the noodles and hence your noodles may end up a bit soggy.

2. You have to be fast to stir-fry the noodles. Don't let the noodles sit in the wok for too long. If not, you may burn the ingredients and then you will get a burned taste vs charred aromatic taste.

3. Prepare all ingredients on hand (nearby your stove) so that you are able to pick and reach for them easily.

4. Secret Ingredient to make it really tasty - what else but Pork Lard!! For those who really know the best Char Kway Teow will be able to taste the different if the dish used pork lard or not.

5. Also be prepared for a smoky house if you are cooking indoors :). Best to cook outside and lure your neighbours with the wonderful smell.

But when the craving for Char Kway Teow calls, I will risk to have the smokey charred aroma linger in my kitchen. Infact, when I made this, I didn't even have some of the basic ingredients eg, cockles and chinese sausage. But it didn't matter, I was determined to eat Char Kway Teow.

Simple Ingredients :-

1 . 1/2 lb fresh flat rice noodles. If you are not in Asia and can't find find the fresh ones, you can buy the slightly frozen ones from Vietnamese Supermarkets. You just need to microwave it for 30s and break it up to strands.
2. 2 TBSP of lard ( Substitute - 2 TBSP of peanut oil)
3. 1 TBSP of finely chopped garlic
4. 4 - 6 shrimps shelled, de-veined, and tails left intact if you like.
5. 150g of fresh cockles, scalded and shelled (Substitute: more shrimps or add squid)
6. 4 - 6 sliced Lap Cheong (Chinese sausage),
7. 2 eggs
8. A handful of beansprouts - washed and drained
9. 5 sprigs of chives (Substitute - Scallions)

Seasoning -
2 tbsp light soya sauce (Substitute - 1 TBSP of fish sauce and 1 TBSP or light soy sauce)
1 tsp of dark sauce sauce - optional if you don't want it dark
1 tbsp Chilli paste(sambal) - optional if you don't like it spicy
1 TSBP of water
Salt and Pepper to taste

Simple steps : (Apologies, I can't post any photos as it is impossible to shoot the photos and cook this dish to the desired results - remember my tips - the wok is very hot and my hands must be fast to stir-fry. I will need a 3rd hand the next time I cook this)

1. Heat wok with lard or oil until hot and fry the Chinese sausages until fragrant. I like to start with the chinese sausage as it lets some oil out from the meat. Next, add the chopped garlic. Add about prawns and fry until cooked.

2. Make a space in the wok by pushing all the fried ingredients to one side. Add in the noodles and then add the seasoning. Stir-fry the noodles and all the side ingredients together, you can sprinkle some water which helps to further bind the ingredients in the hot wok.

3. Again, spread the ingredients to the side to create an empty space in the centre. You can add a little oil if you like. Then crack an egg (or 2) in. Let it sit for 3 seconds before you put all the ingredients to cover the eggs. Stir-fry evenly.

4. If you have cockles, add in. And then take the handful of beansprouts and add in the chives / scallions. A quick 5 seconds stir should do it and the dish is ready.

Serve the char kway teow and eat immediately. Careful, it's hot.

You will find that the noodles are soft but with strong charred aromatic taste and the bean sprouts provide a nice crunch to the dish. Enjoy!


Anncoo said...

Woo...I love CKT especially the white CKT like yours. Looks very delicious!
Pass me that plate please :)

mysimplefood said...

Anncoo - Yup, I did not add the dark soy sauce. Thot I will just go for clear one this time. Taste just as great!

Belinda @zomppa said...

Praise the lard! This looks awesome - I can imagine the fresh, hot noodles..........

Lawyer Loves Lunch said...

This looks awesome! I recently discovered that my local Asian store sells fresh rice noodles for a fraction of what it costs to order 'em out so I'll definitely be trying this soon!

~Lisa~ said...

This is perfect. I love your explanation of the hot wok, so important in asian dishes. I need some pork lard and a good chinese wok. Great recipe (=

thehungryartist said...

Gosh, this looks SO delicious!

mysimplefood said...

Belinda - Lard does the trick!! :)

Lawyer Loves Lunch - You can find anything in an Asian grocery store, I do all shopping for Asian stuff there.

Lisa - You are right! Pork lard and a good chinese wok - key ingredients to "great" Chinese food.

the hungry artiest - Thanks for dropping by. Glad you like it!

noobcook said...

agree lard is essential ... yours look so yummy ^^

Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron said...

Lovely dish! I think I know what this is and have tried it at a Chinese restaurant. Delicious! Thanks for tips on working with a wok!

The Mom Chef said...

That looks and sounds absolutely delicious. I've never even heard of it before. I'm learning so much from your posts!

Belly Good Cooking said...

Hmmm..... Remember the famous char kway teow stall in Senawang??

tigerfish said...

Praise the Lard....hahhaha...how true :)

mysimplefood said...

Noobcook - I think in Singapore, the hawkers stalls don't use lard as much unlike Malaysia :)

Tanantha - Glad you have tried it and like it too.

The Mom Chef - Thanks dear. that is what great about food blogs. We learn so much from each other.

Belly Good Cooking - Hey, which one? Hmmm..I only remember the best curry mee in Senawang. I still want to eat it everytime I am in Seremban :)

Tigerfish - Hi!! Though lard is not healthy (it's like bacon oil rite haha) but once in a while, you just gotta use it.

Little Inbox said...

For the home cooked version, I like to substitute koay teow with soy noodle. My healthier choice. Haha...

Monet said...

Thank you for the tips...this looks do very delicious!

mysimplefood said...

Little Inbox - Soy noodles...woo I never thot of that. Thanks for the suggestion.

Monet - Thanks for dropping by! Glad you liked the tips.

Debbie said...

Can I just hire you to come make this tonight? This looks great, Praise the Lard, ha!

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

Love your description of the perfect charred flavor that ties everything together. This looks fast and tasty!

mysimplefood said...

Hi Debbie - Dallas & Houston is not that far, maybe one day I can make it for you :) Thanks for dropping by.

Xiaolu - I try to best describe how this dish would taste like :). Hope it worked.

Chef Dennis said...

I have never seen stir fried noodles, what a wonderful way to prepare them! I know my girls would love them!

mysimplefood said...

Hi Chef Dennis - I hope you make it for them :)

Indie.Tea said...

The noodles sound delicious (I'd have to use something in place of the shrimp though...maybe scallops?)...
p.s. The "Praise the Lard" sign is cute. There's a butcher in San Francisco that sells t-shirts with that slogan on it :) Its called Prather Ranch.

mysimplefood said...

Indie.Tea - Scallops in fine too. That would be a cute T-shirt!! :)

Anonymous said...

Where do u find pork lard? Can u make it yourself? If yes, how?

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