CHAR KWAY TEOW
Char Kway Teow (also known as Char Kuey Teow) is a traditional Malaysian rice noodle dish that has also gained popularity in neighboring Southeast Asian nations such as Singapore and Indonesia. It’s a rich dish packed with pork, vegetables, and chewy noodles that resembles Cantonese Chow Ho Fun Rice Noodles.
Although the tri-state area is home to a number of excellent Malaysian eateries, my personal preference is for a franchise named Penang. With the right amount of herbs and fish sauce, charred rice noodles, and “wok hay,” their Char Kway Teow is exquisite. We’ll have to make a trip to Malaysia one day to eat some street-side Char Kway Teow!
CARBON STEEL WOK AND HIGH HEAT ARE THE TWO KEY ELEMENTS.
The best way to go to Char Kway Teow heaven is if you have a well-stocked Chinese pantry or can buy the particular ingredients and spices needed for this recipe.
It’s difficult to make an authentic Char Kway Teow without a carbon steel wok and high heat, but once you do, you’ve got it down pat.
Even though Asian street food chefs don’t have the luxury of a fully equipped kitchen, the constant is always a solid cooking vessel and roaring heat. To get a feel for what Xi’an’s street food is all about, look no further than these images from our vacation there.
In order to achieve that charred wok hei flavor, you’ll need to use an enormous carbon steel wok with enough surface area to cook the noodles.
ADVICE ON COOKING CHAR KWAY TEOW
A few short pointers on how to make this Char Kway Teow before we begin:
- It’s preferable to divide the ingredients in half and cook this dish in two batches if you have a smaller wok (ours is gigantic). A common practice among street vendors is to cook one serving at a time in order to maintain a consistently high temperature in the wok and preserve the dish’s signature wok hei flavor.
- Preparation ahead of time is essential because you’ll need to move swiftly because of the intense heat. It’s better to have some char on your food than to have it completely burnt.
- Rice noodles break quickly, so use care when handling them, especially if they are fresh. It’s simpler to find dried flat rice noodles in Asian markets since they’re more durable.
- It’s the fish sauce and shrimp sauce or shrimp paste that give this meal its distinct flavor, but they’re also very salty, so use caution while making the first batch and taste as you go for the second one.
- Garlic chili sauce or hot chili oil can be served alongside your char kway teow for extra heat. It’s possible to produce a consistent spiciness in a dish by adding chili to the mix. The choice is yours!
Now that you have your wok ready, let’s get started!
- 225g of dried wide rice noodles or 450g of fresh rice noodles
- 170g of mung bean sprouts
- 115g of shrimp
- 115g of fish cake or fish tofu, thinly sliced
- 115g of garlic chives, cut into 2 ½-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 2 Chinese sausages, sliced ⅛ inch thick
- 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 2 teaspoons of dark soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of regular soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon of shrimp paste or shrimp sauce
- 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of shaoxing wine
- 1 lightly beaten egg
- ⅛ teaspoon of white pepper
- Soak the noodles for 30 to 45 minutes in warm water. To drain the extra water, transfer it to a strainer. Cutting rice noodles into 1 1/2-inch broad slices is optional if you have fresh rice noodles on hand. Use Judy’s recipe for Homemade Rice Noodles to make your own rice noodle soup in your own kitchen!
- Take 1/8 teaspoon of ground white pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of shrimp paste, 1/4 teaspoon oyster sauce, and 2 tsp. each of dark and ordinary soy sauce to a small bowl. Set aside after you’ve finished mixing.
- Spread a tablespoon of vegetable oil around the outside of your wok and bring it to medium-high heat. 20 seconds of stirring in the cut Chinese sausages completes the preparation.
- Slice two garlic cloves and add the shrimp and fish tofu. Another 20 seconds of stir-frying are required.
- Switching to high-heat wok mode Pour 1 tbsp. of Shaoxing wine around the wok’s edge.
- Continually stir-fry for 15 seconds. Put the noodles in the pot. Toss everything together with a spatula until well combined. Before you begin cooking, place everything in the center of the wok and let it get really hot. Noodles should be evenly coated with the sauce combination, and another tablespoon of vegetable oil should be distributed around the outside of the wok.
- Add the garlic chives next. The wok hay sear is achieved by gently mixing the noodles and distributing them around the perimeter of the wok (to reduce breakage). The rice noodles should not adhere to the wok because of the heat and oil in the pan.
- Create a small space at the bottom of the pan and add the remaining oil and a slightly beaten egg while the noodles are scorching quickly. Break apart the egg by stirring it for 15 seconds. Inexperienced cooks may choose to start by pre-cooking the egg.
- After that, add the mung bean sprouts and gently mix everything together for a full minute.
- You can add 2 tablespoons of water to the pan and stir-fry the noodles if your char kway teow appears to be drying out. It’s up to you if you’d want to add a little additional vegetable oil. You can serve your Char Kway teow with a side of chili garlic paste or homemade chili oil.