Char Kway Teow
Recipe video above. Epic Malaysian street food favourite - made at home! Use the Base Recipe if you're a capable cook with a powerful gas stove and a good cast iron wok or large heavy based skillet. Otherwise, I recommend using the Easier Method.
Servings: 2 - 3 people
- 500 g / 1 lb fresh wide rice noodle (Note 1)
- 2 tbsp lard , or vegetable oil (Note 2)
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil , separated
- 10 small prawns/shrimp , shelled and deveined
- 2 garlic cloves , finely chopped
- 1 Chinese sausage / Lup Chong Sausage , sliced thinly on the diagonal (Note 3)
- 5 cm / 2" piece of fried fish cake , sliced thinly (Note 4)
- 20 stems garlic chives , cut into 4 pieces (Note 5)
- 2 1/2 cups bean sprouts
- 2 eggs , whisked
- 5 tsp dark soy sauce (Note 6)
- 4 tsp light soy (Note 6)
- 2 tsp oyster sauce (Note 6)
- 4 tsp kecap manis / sweet soy sauce (Note 6)
Do not attempt to pull noodles apart while cold and hard - they break.
Place whole packet in microwave, heat on high for 1 1/2 minutes - 2 minutes until warm and pliable, not hot, turning packet over as needed.
Handle carefully and measure out 500g/1 lb noodles into a heatproof bowl. Separate noodles stuck together.
If noodles become cold and brittle before cooking, cover with cling wrap and microwave for 30 seconds to make warm (not hot, just warm) to reduce breakage.
Cook using Base Recipe (capable cooks) or Easier Method.
Cooking - BASE Recipe:
Heat lard and 1 tbsp oil in a wok or very large heavy based skillet over high heat. Swirl around the wok.
When it starts smoking, add prawns. Cook for 30 seconds.
Add garlic, stir for 10 seconds.
Add noodles, then using both hands on the handle, toss 4 times until coated with oil (or gently fold using a spatula + wooden spoon, see video).
Add Chinese sausage and fish cake, toss or gently fold 4 times.
Add bean sprouts and garlic chives, toss or gently fold 6 times.
Push everything to one side, add remaining 1 tbsp oil. Add egg and cook, moving it around until mostly set - about 1 minute. Use wooden spoon to chop it up roughly.
Pour Sauce over noodles, then toss to disperse Sauce through the noodles. Pause between tosses to give the noodles a chance to caramelise on the edges.
Cooking - EASIER Method:
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large non stick skillet over high heat.
When heated, add shrimp and cook for 1 1/2 minutes until just cooked through, then remove into bowl
Add Chinese sausage and fish cake, and cook for 1 minute until sausage is caramelised, then add to bowl.
Add 1 tbsp oil then add egg and cook, pushing in the edges to make a thick omelette. Once set, chop it up roughly using a wooden spoon (see video), then add to bowl.
Add bean sprouts and cook for about 1 minute until just starting to wilt, then add to bowl.
Add lard. Once melted and starting to smoke, add garlic then immediately add noodles. Fold gently 4 times using a spatula + wooden spoon (see video) just to disperse oil through noodles.
Tip all the other ingredients back in plus the chives. Fold gently twice, then pour all the Sauce over.
Gently toss 4 to 6 times to disperse the sauce, pausing in between to allow the noodles to have a chance to caramelise on the edges a bit.
Remove from stove and serve immediately.
* Do not scale this recipe up. To scale up, cook more batches. However, it can be scaled down.
** See Note 7 for suggestions for alternative add ins.
1. Noodles: Char Kway Teow ("CKT") is made with wide, flat fresh noodles, available in the refrigerated section of Asian grocery stores and some supermarkets in the fridge section (Harris Farms in Australia). They are about 1.5 - 2 cm / 3/5 - 4/5" wide, sold in plastic packets. They require precise handling to prepare and cook, otherwise you'll end up with a bowl full of noodles broken into a gazillion pieces, so please follow the recipe directions.
Other methods to warm and loosen noodles: leave noodles out of fridge overnight then place in colander under running warm tap water and gently loosen with fingers. Or submerge leak proof packet in warm water until warm and pliable.
DO NOT soak in boiling water or cook in boiling water (they fall apart). Do not attempt to separate or cook cold noodles If you try this recipe with dried wide rice noodles, expect high noodle breakage.
If you only have access to dried rice noodles, I recommend using ones maximum 0.5cm / 1/5" thick (dried) as these hold up to wok tossing better. See further info in post about rice noodle breakage. Use 200g / 7 oz dried noodles.
2. Lard is pork fat and it adds flavour to this dish because fat = flavour! It's sold alongside butter at supermarkets in Australia (Coles, Woolies. IGA), otherwise, just use more oil.
3. Chinese Sausage - Found in the Asian aisle at large supermarkets (Coles, Woolies) or Asian stores. It's not refrigerated, it's vac packed, about 13cm / 5" long, 1.5cm / 1/2" wide. Tastes like chorizo but it's sweet, not spicy, and has an Asian-y flavour. It's an essential part of the CKT experience. Use leftover in fried rice, it's amazing, or in place of Char Siu in Singapore Noodles. It caramelises quickly because of the sugar so be mindful of that. If packet says to boil 15 minutes - ignore this. When sliced and pan fried, it takes 60 seconds to be caramelised, snackable perfection.
4. Fried Fish Cake - Found in the fridge at Asian stores. Use leftovers in Chinese Soup or Chinese Corn Soup. Can be substituted with sliced Asian fish balls sold at supermarkets.
5. Garlic Chives - Looks like blade of grass, tastes like garlicky chives. Not essential - sub with normal chives or finely sliced green onions on the diagonal, or even leave out.
6. The Sauces (see photo in post, can get all at supermarkets in Australia):
* Soy Sauces - you need the dark soy sauce here for flavour, can't be substituted. The light soy sauce can be substituted with all purpose soy sauce but do not use more dark soy sauce (it will overwhelm the dish).
* Kecap Manis is also known as sweet soy sauce. The consistency is more like maple syrup rather than water.
7. Add in alternatives: Chopped chicken thighs instead of shrimp/prawns, sliced firm tofu instead of fish cakes (use leftover for Pad Thai!), and Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork) or bacon for Chinese Sausage (maple cured would be closest). It won't be traditional CKT - but it will still be super tasty!
8. Recipe Sources: See in post for how this recipe was developed!
9. Serves 2 very generously, or 3 sensible servings. Nutrition assumes 3 servings. I've had to use some estimations here because nutrition information on some ingredients are not readily available in the software I use to calculate nutrition. Reduce sodium by using low sodium soy sauce, and less Chinese sausage (slice it super thinly, or chop into small batons to make go further).