Friday, 27 June 2008


Having Char Kuey Teow on the weekends used to be a routine in the G household. It’s easy to cook but preparation can be a killer (that’s where Mr G comes in handy to tail the bean sprouts). How you cook your Char Kuey Teow is up to you but the most famous version is the Penang style Char Kuey Teow, which is usually made with ground chillies, cockles (Hum in Hokkien) and Chinese Sausage (Lup Cheong). I don’t put cockles in mine because one, you can’t get them here and two, nobody likes it in my household. I used to find it quite amusing when Mr G used to order Char Kuey Teow in Penang, in his anglo accent….. “sehtu chair kueh ti ow, no hum or lep chong please”……meaning ‘one Char Kuey Teow with no cockles or chinese sausage please”. I am surprised that the char kuey teow uncle (Asians call anyone that is older than them, uncle or auntie, or grandpa or grandma as a sign of respect…..we therefore have plenty of non blood relatives floating around the country!) actually understood him!

Anyway, did you know:
Char kway teow or char kuey teow literally means "fried flat noodles"? It is a VERY popular noodle dish in Malaysia and Singapore and it is made from flat rice noodles, approximately 1 cm or slightly narrower in width, fried over very high heat with light and dark soy sauce, chilli, prawns, cockles, egg, bean sprouts and Chinese chives. Sometimes slices of Chinese sausage and fish cake are added. It is fried in pork fat, with crisp croutons of pork lard, which give it its characteristic taste.

Char kway teow has a reputation of being unhealthy due to its fat content. However, when the dish was first invented, it was mainly served to labourers. The high fat content and low cost of the dish made it attractive to these people as it was a cheap source of energy and nutrients. When the dish was first served, it was often sold by fishermen, farmers and cockle-gatherers who doubled as char kway teow sellers in the evening to supplement their income. (Source: WIKIPEDIA)

My version of Char Kuey Teow is as follows.

Ingredients (serves 3 to 4)
1 kg packet fresh flat rice noodles – prick the packet all over, unopened, with a fork and heat in the microwave on high for 3 mins to heat and soften the noodles
Handful of Bean sprouts – tailed…sorry but untailed bean sprouts look so ugly!
Bunch of Chinese chives – cut into equal 4 cm lengths and divide into 4 portions
100 g of long dried chillies – desseded and soaked in boiling water*
Small slice of belacan – toasted in the oven or over open flame until slightly dark (Beware, it may stick out your kitchen!) – optional*
Green prawns – peeled but head and tail left intact – around 4 or more per person
1 fish cake – sliced thinly – divide into 4 portions
1 large chicken breast – sliced thinly (I put this in lieu of the Chinese sausage – you may want to put it instead) – divide into 4 portions
½ head garlic – minced
Light soy sauce, Dark soy sauce and caramel soy sauce
Vegetable oil or rendered pork fat oil
Note: You may substitute * with Galiko or John West minced chilli

Method – individual serve
Grind chillies and belacan in minimal amount of boiled water. Set aside.

Heat oil in a wok and fry 1 tsp garlic and 1 to 2 tbsp chilli paste. How much chilli paste you put is according to individual taste. When I cook for the younger kids, I omit this altogether.

Cook for 30 secs and add chicken. Cook for 1 min and add in prawns and fish cake. Cook for a further 1 min.

Add in a large handful of noodles (or enough for 1 serve), around 2 tbsp light soy sauce, 1 tsp dark soy sauce and 1 tsp caramel soy sauce. Mix well and add in sprouts and chives, fry for about 30 secs. Make a well in the wok and add a tsp of oil. Crack an egg in the well and cover with the noodles, blend the egg through the noodles, taking care not to over mix as you don’t want the eggs to be overly scrambled in the dish.

Remove, serve it to the first lucky person (I usually work from the youngest getting served first, to the oldest however I am always the last one as I have to cook it!). Repeat process.

Note: you could fry the noodles all together up to the egg stage – then cook it in individual portions.

Note: Ground chilli will last up to one week in fridge or freeze in individual portions for future use. If in Malaysia/Singapore, use chilli boh.

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