A recipe five years in the making, I present to you DIY Char Kuey Teow! This is the way the finest hawkers in Taiping have made it.
THE MAIN INGREDIENTSNow, any idiot can put a bunch of ingredients in a wok, but it takes a special idiot to make it taste good. So before we begin to make our Char Kuey Teow, there are two important facts to acknowledge. It is the Zen of Char Kuey Teow.
500gms Fresh Kuey Teow
300gms Bean Sprouts
2 Stalks Chives - cut in 2 inch length
2 Cloves Garlic - chopped
Chilli Paste (Cili Gilling)
Shrimps & Cockles
THE SAUCE MIX
3tbsp Dark Sauce
3tbsp Light Sauce
3tbsp Maggi Chicken/Anchovies Stock
1. The Chinese make the world's best Char Kuey Teow.This is not some racist jibe. In order to make a good Char Kuey Teow, the fundamentals of Chinese cooking must be employed. In this instance, there are two: Never ever overcook and never, in the course of cooking, quell the "FIRE" of this magnificent dish. Okay. Now that that's out of the way, let's Char Kuey Teow! In 10 easy steps.
2. Chinese cooking is like Chinese Kungfu.
1. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil. With your spatula, spread it all round the wok. When it starts smoking, the oil is hot enough. Failure to do so will result in the Kuey Teow noodle sticking to the wok.
2. Throw in the garlic. Most Chinese chefs will tell you that literally throwing in the garlic brings out its aroma. Who are we to argue? Fry till light brown. You have to watch it since garlic tends to cook pretty quickly.
3. Put in your shrimps, add in a dash of the Sauce mix and stir a couple of times. Do not overcook. Overcooked prawns taste like leather.
4. Quickly add in the Kuey Teow noodle. Now Kuey Teow is a flat ribbon-like rice noodle, not unlike fettucini. Most good traders carry two type - the narrow ones for soup noodles and the broader ones (almost 2 cm) which are perfect for this dish. Add in more sauce and add in the chilli paste. Then give it a couple of stirs to even out the stuff.
5. Now here's where the Zen comes in. Add in the broth. You'll want to do this with a soup ladle and NEVER pour it directly onto the Kuey Teow. That will "extinguish the fire" of your Char Kuey Teow. Instead, pour slowly around the edge of the wok in a circular motion letting it sizzle its way into the mix. This is a fundamental that can be applied in all stir-fry dishes.
6. Add in chives. The Chinese call this "Kau Choy" or "Kuchai". This gives the dish some color and it's really quite lovely to eat. Toss the mix.
7. Next, push all the wok's content to one side away from the main heat of the work. Put a dash of oil in the middle of the wok, break in an egg. Add a dash of the sauce mix and pepper for taste. Then mess it all up and let the egg coagulate a little. Once done, mix in the Kuey Teow.
8. Then comes a crucial part. Quickly throw in the Beansprouts and add more broth while exercising extreme caution. Undercooked beansprouts tastes "green". While overcooked ones taste like fiber! To know for sure, take a taste test. The moment it stops tasting raw, it's time to take out your Char Kuey Teow.
9. Finally, if you so desire, add in a few cockles and fold it in letting the heat of your Kuey Teow cook it. Now I hate cockles. I never eat the stuff. But say what you like, cockles actually enhance this dish.
10. Eat it while it's hot.
The ingredients above serve four. But never ever fry it all at once. Good Kuey Teow must be cooked one plate at a time. Also, most folks tend to overcook this. As a guide, the whole frying process should take you no longer than 2 minutes. And finally, always make sure your wok is hot.
By the way, I took a short cut with the Broth. For the real thing, check out Pick Yin's recipe! Now go forth and fry. And do tell me the results.
faster than instant noodles
UPDATE 10 Jan 04
As some of you might have noticed, this recipe is Halal - ala Doli's in Taiping. Also, I should mention that you must always make CKT in a large wok. Mine's 24 inches in diameter. You need the space to toss the mix. CKT in a regular frying pan just isn't gonna cut it. :)