In Melbourne, fresh rice noodles (and I mean the ultra fresh slimy noodles, not just your dried variety) can be found in any local Asian store (most suburbs have at least 1 Asian grocery store) or even the local supermarket, making it easy to just whip up some char kuay teow when I feel like it.
Over here, Asian grocery stores are only found in the Quartier Chinois (China Town) in the 13th arrondissement. This is a pain as it means at least a precious weekend morning spent elbowing little old Chinese ladies out of the way in the overcrowded Tang Frères grocery store every time (which is pretty often) I get a craving for char kuay teow.
Last weekend, we braved the little old Chinese ladies in the Quartier Chinois.
Look what I made! Mmmmmmmm.
When it comes to cooking char kuay teow, I have to say that I don’t stick to any particular recipe and I use the “agak-agak” (in Malay, this means “approximate” or “rough estimation”) rule when it comes to ingredients.
Anyway, here’s a basic recipe (for about 4 people). Feel free to add more or less of the ingredients that tickle your fancy. (I tend to add LOADS of garlic and chilli).
· Oil for cooking (hawker stalls in Malaysia tend to use lard)
· Garlic (roughly 1 teaspoon)
· 500g bean sprouts (I love bean sprouts so I tend to add more)
· 400-500g fresh flat white rice noodles (kuay teow)
· A good handful of chinese garlic chives (ku chai), chopped to 2cm bits
· 3 – 4 eggs
· Dark soy sauce
· Light soy sauce (Optional. I find that adding the dark soy sauce gives it enough flavour)
· Dark thick sweet soy sauce (or a pinch of sugar)
· Dried chilli flakes, chilli powder or fresh chilli paste
· Lap cheong (chinese sausage. Optional)
· See ham (cockles. Optional)
Start off by heating the oil in the wok or large frying pan.
Once the oil is heated, add eggs and fry till cooked.
Remove the eggs (I get lazy sometimes and just leave the eggs in, adding all other ingredients to the wok).
Add garlic and prawns.
Add lap cheong and see ham (Optional).
Add the rice noodles. (Remember to separate the rice noodles before adding into the wok.)
Add the bean sprouts.
Add the eggs back in.
Add dark soy sauce for colour and the light soy sauce for taste.
Add the dark thick sweet soy sauce or a pinch of sugar to taste.
Add chilli according to taste.
Tip 1: I tend to use kuay teow (bought fresh), which has been kept in the fridge for a day or two. I find that frying ultra-fresh kuay teow makes the char kuay teow slightly sticky. After a day or two in the fridge, the rice noodles stiffen up a little, making it ideal for frying.
Tip 2: Keep the heat high when frying ingredients.
Tip 3: Divide the ingredients into 2 batches and fry batches separately. I find that it makes it easier to handle in the wok, plus the ingredients cook faster. Having small batches therefore avoids overcooking.
Tip 4: Most of all, experiment with the portions of ingredients to create your own version of char kuay teow.