Monday, February 23, 2015

Char Kway Teow

I have been really enjoying the flavors of Southeast Asian cuisine lately. The flavors are intense but the cooking process is quick and not too complicated. "Char Kway Teow" is a Malaysian stir fry made with fresh flat rice noodles, very common on the streets of Penang . It can be described as Pad Thai's Malaysian cousin to the uninitiated (like me!). I recently ordered "Char Kway Teow" at a restaurant in Auckland called Mix Moon (very close to a certain infamous sculpture) . It was fantastic. Though traditionally it is cooked with shrimp, Chinese sausages, blood cockles and cooked in lard, the recipe I am sharing with you today is closer to what I ate at Mix Moon. I am just not sophisticated enough to cook with lard. Rasa Malaysia has a really good step by step recipe for authentic Penang Char Kway Teow that came in handy while I was trying to deconstruct this dish. 

The key to a good stir fry is a hot wok (or pan) and prepping your ingredients before hand. Quick cooking on high heat ensures that the vegetables are crisp and flavorful rather than soggy and wilty (yes that's a word). Don't overcrowd the pan while cooking. This effectively reduces the cooking temperature. Stir fry in batches. Use the freshest possible ingredients you can find. I found fresh flat rice noodles at the Asian market. Fresh rice noodles can get clumpy so loosen them up at room temperature by hand. Don't soak it in water. In fact, there should be no water added anywhere in this dish. Water is the enemy of stir fries. The noodles I got were coated in a bit of oil, which helped with the unclumping (yes that's a word too). I have used mild dried red chilies in this dish to control the amount of heat but still have the flavor of chilies. 

Yield - Serves 4

Prep Time - 15 Minutes

Total Time - 30 Minutes

Char Kway Teow - Malayasian Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Shrimp and Garlic Chives
Char Kway Teow - Malayasian Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Shrimp and Garlic Chives

Char Kway Teow - Malayasian Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Shrimp and Garlic Chives

Char Kway Teow - Malayasian Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Shrimp and Garlic Chives


1.5 lb Rice Noodles
2 cups Shrimp, peeled
2 Eggs
2 cups Bean Sprouts
2 Shallots
6-7 Cloves garlic
6-7 Mild Dried Chilies
3 Tablespoons Oil
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
Chinese garlic chives, for garnish
Lemon wedges


Soak the dry chilies in just enough warm water to cover and set aside to soften them up. Since I used mild chiles, I microwaved this for about 15 seconds. This is quicker.

Slice the shallots. 

Remove the chiles from the water and grind it with the shallots. I have used the smallest jar of the Magic Bullet for this task. Add a splash of oil if needed to help it along.

Slice the Chinese chives in 1 to 2 inch pieces and give the garlic a nice fine chop. 

Separate the rice noodles by hand and remove all clumps.

Now we are ready to cook! Heat the pan on the highest heat possible on your stove. Household stovetops generally don't get hot enough for stir fries. I am cooking this in 3 batches. Add a tablespoon of oil and add the garlic in. Keep stirring to not let anything burn!

Add a third of the shrimp in and stir along with the garlic.

Add a third of the bean sprouts and stir for a few seconds.

Add a third of the noodles in and mix it all up.

Shove everything to a corner and add a bit of oil in the empty spot in the pan and crack an egg in.

Scramble the egg very quick a and stir it in with the noodles.

Add just a little splash of soy sauce and a splash of fish sauce. Not too much soy sauce. 

Stir it all in and add a tablespoon of the chili shallot mix.

Add the chives and check and add salt if needed, the soy sauce and fish sauce can be just enough seasoning. 

Another stir and serve up immediately. Repeat for more servings. The cooking process is very quick work!



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