|Char Kuay Teow with sweet soy|
If you know and love Malaysian food, then Char Kuay Teow needs no introduction. In terms of popularity, I would think that Laksa ranks number one, followed by Hainanese chicken rice, and then Char Kuay Teow. These three dishes are commonly found in most menus of restaurants serving Malaysian-style food in Sydney, but more often than not, the authenticity of the Char Kuay Teow is questionable. Char Kuay Teow (CKT) literally means fried rice noodles, but a plate of greasy fried rice noodles with black soy sauce does not qualify as CKT. I find that the CKT sold here usually omits the eggs, which is a must in every CKT. It coats the rice noodles and gives it flavour and texture. Cockles are another must-have in CKT, but I have omitted them in my dish as I was unable to find any at the shops here.
I made two versions of CKT. One is the savoury Penang-style, and the other is the sweet version, typical of that found in Singapore. The latter uses kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) and is relatively more moist, whilst the Penang-style is drier. I personally prefer the sweet version. My recipe below explains how you can easily make both.
|Savoury Penang-style Char Kuay Teow|
Char Kuay Teow
3 tbsp lard (or substitute with vegetable oil)*
6 fresh prawns, peeled
1/2 Chinese sausage (lup cheong), thinly sliced on the diagonal
8 slices fried fishcake
1/2 tbsp chopped garlic
250g (1/2 lb) fresh rice noodles, at room temperature (separate the noodles to prevent clumping together)
1 tbsp chilli paste**
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 1/2 cups beansprouts
1/2 cup garlic chives, cut into 2 inch lengths
1 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp thick caramel (Cheong Chan brand)
2 tbsp ABC kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) - omit if Penang-style char kuay teow is preferred***
2 tbsp water
1. In a large non-stick wok, heat up 1 tbsp lard over high heat and fry the prawns, Chinese sausage and fishcake slices. When the prawns are almost cooked, push the ingredients aside and add 1 tbsp lard in the centre of the wok. Add garlic and fry briefly. Stir and mix well with the other ingredients. (It is important to keep stirring everything with the spatula in quick motion so that everything cooks evenly. Fry only one batch at a time)
2. Toss in the noodles and drizzle the sauce around the side of the wok. Mix in with the noodles and stir-fry quickly, moving the spatula back and forth until noodles are well coated. Do not overcook. Stir in the chilli paste.
4. Toss in the beansprouts and garlic chives and mix through quickly for 20 seconds. The noodles should be fairly moist, and if not, add a few drops of water (or extra lard if desired). Transfer to a plate immediately and serve hot.
* To make lard, you can buy pork fat from the butcher and dice them into tiny cubes. For 2 servings, use 4 tbsp pork fat and fry in 3 tbsp vegetable oil on medium-high heat slowly until the fat turns brown and crisp. You can use the crispy lard to garnish the char kuay teow before serving.
** Chilli paste: I used dried chillies that have been soaked in water and blended finely, then fried in oil with some chopped garlic, seasoned with salt and sugar. You can substitute with your favourite brand of chilli paste if preferred.
*** Penang-style char kuay teow is more savoury than sweet, and also drier. Adjust the quantity of kecap manis used to your preference.