Char Kway Teow, which stands for “stir fried rice flat noodles” is a very popular street food in Malaysia. It consists of these flat rice noodles stir fried in a very hot work with prawns, cockles, greens, bean sprouts, and eggs with dark soy sauce and spices!
Historically, fishermen and farmers would sell this savory, flavorful dish at night in hawker stands to supplement their daytime incomes. Traditionally, you stir fry the dish in pork fat, which makes it quite a rich dish (though I’m sure it’s really really good!)
These days, most people have switched to using vegetable oil. Many versions include a fried egg as well, which adds back some of the flavor lost from the lard.
If you have all your ingredients ready to go for this dish, it actually doesn’t take too long to cook. The frying step has to be quick and done in a really hot wok! You want there to be a char with the noodles – that’s what makes this dish stand out!
I ended up buying sheets of rice noodles because I could not find pre-cut ones. I was able to find mine in Boston’s Chinatown at Sun Sun Market, though you can probably find it in a lot of places. Cut noodles into 1/2 inch strips.
The rest is pretty easy. If you are experienced with the recipe and all your ingredients are ready to go, you should be able to cook this up reasonably quickly. In our case, since it was our first time and we didn’t really know what we were doing, we took a little longer than normal.
We eventually felt like we had to take the shrimp out otherwise they would overcook. So, if you want to be safe, you can take the shrimp out too after you think they are done. Overcooked shrimp is rubbery, hard, and, frankly, can ruin the dish.
This dish is really like a normal stir fry, so it’s not too hard. It’s important to have a really hot wok or skillet (cast iron would be great!). In our case, I think our wok was not quite not enough, and thus we didn’t get as much char as we would have liked.
The flavors were all there though, and my Singaporean friend blessed and approved the recipe. 🙂
Flavors of Malaysia: A Journey Through Time, Tastes, and Traditions
This Malaysian series was inspired by a free review copy I got of Flavors of Malaysia by Susheela Raghavan. You can read a more detailed account of my thoughts regarding the book here. The publisher has been kind enough to provide me with THREE books to give away! I will be giving one away per day during this series – one for each dish I cook from the book!
Giveaway ends Friday, March 4, 2011 at midnight! I reserve the right to pick another winner if I pick the same winner twice during this three-part giveaway series.
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