Hailing for the food center of Malaysia (to me, that is), the humble char kuey teow or fried flat noodles is well-known as a street or hawker dish which is utterly delish yet oh-so-sinful. Trust me when I tell you that most great Malaysian dishes are sinful to boot. It’s just how things are…
This dish is no exception with its high content of fat, and cholesterol in the form of oil, egg, prawns, Chinese sausage, pig fat and yes, cockles…and may I add, semi-cooked cockles. Sorry if you detect a hint of disdain in my words but there is no love lost between me and cockles. Have always hated the stuff and whenever I order this dish back at home, I would ask for no cockles, plenty of chilli paste and longer cooking time (the taste and fragrance of almost-burnt eggs is…divine!).
Being away from home requires some ingenuity on my part when it comes to cooking Malaysian dishes and I have long resigned myself to the fact that if it doesn’t taste quite like the original, at least it ought to be as close as it gets to the real thing.
For starters, the noodles required for this dish ought to be thin and soft but they don’t sell fresh flat rice noodles so I had to make do with dried flat rice noodles from Thailand which are slightly thicker. Then of course, the Chinese sausage which my mum swears is the best in the whole world (sorry la Mum but not everything back at home is the best) isn’t available so we used the Vietnam version which is also called lap cheong, for your info. I actually prefer the Viet version – more meaty, less fat but still quite fragrant. The fish cake I used came frozen and well, everything else is from the Asian grocery – beansprouts, chives and all. No cockles because I don’t fancy them and Nil doesn’t see the point of buying even a handful just for a couple of pieces in this dish.
Overall verdict is, well, this is as close as it gets to the real thing considering that my crappy blender doesn’t really blend the chilli into a paste and that the dark soya sauce is salty (and not sweet). Otherwise, my recommendation? Put heaps of chilli paste, ground white pepper and you’re fine! Do note that this dish must only be made in single portion to retain its flavour and taste. Any more and it won’t taste nice at all. And yes, I know what I’m saying. 🙂
Char Kuey Teow
All ingredients listed below are for a one-person serving
Some flat rice noodles (kuey teow)
Fish cake – sliced
Chinese sausage – sliced
2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
Handful of sliced chives
1/2 tsp dark soya sauce
Light soya sauce (to taste)
1/2 tsp chilli paste
Ground white pepper to taste
- If you’re using dried flat noodles, prepare according to instructions and then put aside. Cover to avoid the noodles from drying out.
- Heat some oil in a wok on high heat and fry the garlic until light brown and fragrant before adding in the sliced Chinese sausage, prawns, fish cake and bean sprouts. Fry for several minutes until the prawns are cooked and push to one side of the wok.
- Toss in the noodles and the seasoning (dark soya sauce, light soya sauce, chilli and pepper) before mixing them with the prawns and such. Sprinkle some water over the noodles if you need to.
- After a minute or so, make a well in the middle, pour in some oil and add the egg.
- Break the yolk, cover with the noodles (from the side) and let it cook for a few seconds before tossing in the chives. Stir fry until the egg is cooked. If you like it to be more fragrant, cook it for a minute longer or until it is a little burnt – don’t forget to stir constantly. Add more oil if it sticks to the wok.
- Remove from the heat, dish, squirt some white pepper on top (optional) and serve immediately.