Char Kway Teow– stir fried rice noodles, a very traditional dish in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and I’m sure many other Asian places. My love of the dish first developed during a trip to Malaysia.
The dish is traditionally one made with lots of pork fat, including crisy fried pork lard ( :/? mmm yummmy ) making it very high in saturated fat, cheap and energy packed, and becuase of this it was popular among labourers as a dish to keep them going. I guess from this point it became a stapel hawker dish.
I have only recently attempted to re-create this dish at home as the take away options in the UK are not fantastic and my craving for a superb Char Kway Teow was getting a little overwhelming. The ingredients in the dish vary from place to place, which I quite like as it means I can make my version individual to the aspects of the overall dish which I enjoy most. So here’s my version of the dish, I was satisfied by it and hope if you try it out you will enjoy it too.
Firstly, the quantity of my ingredients made enough for 3 main dishes.
- A handful of flat rice noodle sticks- usually between 0.5- 1cm in width. You could of course use fresh rice noodles if you can find them.
- About 12 medium sized raw green king prawn
- 3 thai fish cakes sliced into strips (these can be found in asian supermarkets and are made with aromatic herbs like lemongrass and ginger, so it adds a fantastic flavour to the dish)
- A handful of roughly chopped fried tofu.
- Asian sausage (an almost sweet, cured sausage which you may or may not love) I used 2 small sausages because I really love the flavour, but if you prefer you could just use one which would add a slight flavour to the noodles and variation to the fish.
- A handful of mange tout or snow peas
- 1 medium onion, diced finely
- 2 tsps of minced jared garlic- you could use fresh garlic, but I think the slight pickled taste of the preserved garlic adds to the flavour of the dish.
- Handful of beansprouts
- 1/2 tsp shrimp paste
- Kecap Manis (sweet soy- traditionally used in Indonesian dishes)
- Dark soy
- Vegtable oil
- Very finely chopped chives to garnish
Start with the noodle by placing them in a large bowl and cover with boiled water, place a tea towel over the top and leave to soften for 20 mins. If you are lucky enough to have fresh rice noodles then obviously omit this step.
Slice the sausgae on a slant and heat a little oil in a fry pan. Once the oil is hot throw the sausage in and brown. Remove with a slotted spoon leaving the oil behind. Briefy fry the fish cake and remove. Now throw 1 tsp of garlic and the diced onion into the still hot oil. Fry until brown be careful not to burn the garlic. Remove again with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen towel to remove excess oil. Throw the raw prawns in and stir fry until they have changed from blue to a light coral- do not over cook the prawns, they need to go back in at the end so they will have a chance to recieve more heat if they are only just coral at this point. Remove with the slotted spoon. Now you have some oil, which is quite flavoured by the previous ingredients, to work up your sauce.
Add to the fry pan the remaining tsp of garlic with the shrimp paste, stir fry until the paste has softened, add a little fresh oil if the paste is a little dry, now add a good glug of soy sauce and the Kecap Manis, taste, now it’s the personal part- what do you think? if its too sweet add more soy, or vice versa. If you havent had this dish before, or used shrimp paste in your cooking, you may be stunned by the fishy flavour….the shrimp paste shouldnt be over powering but it should definitely be noticed and add to the flavour, play with the sauces to get the balance right for you.
Now that you have your sauce just right, throw the softened drained noodels in and coat them with the sauce, use tongs for the rest of the cooking process as you want to thread the ingredients throughout the pan in order to evenly distribute the suace. Return the onion and fried garlic, throw in the tofu, sausage, fish cake and prawns, followed by the beansprouts and mange tout. Stir fry for a few minutes ensuring the cold ingredients are heated through, keep it all moving around the pan to avoid any of the noodles sticking to the pan or indeed each other.
Turn the yummy goodness out onto your serving plates and garnish with the chives.
Hope you give this one a go, and if you do let me know how it works for you?