Hawker-Style Char Kway Teow (Fried Flat Noodles)
Char Kway Teow is a typical hawker dish found in Singapore and Malaysia. In Hokkien, "Char" simply means "Fried" and "Kway Teow" refers to the flat rice noodles used. I suppose the word "Charred" in English also means "burnt and blackened" - which is the exact method you should be cooking this dish!
This dish has a reputation for being unhealthy - the version you get from hawkers uses loads of fried lard, lard oil and large amounts of dark and light soy sauce. For this home-cooked version, I have opted out of using too much oil or adding any fatty meats. The ratio of light and dark soy sauce has also been reduced in order to create a "healthier" dish overall.
Recipe feeds 2 persons.. 10 minutes prep time, total cook time 30 minutes.
250g prawns (I used 6 pieces in total)
2 Chinese sausages, sliced
1 packet flat rice noodles, washed and separated
1/2 cup Chinese chives
1 cup beansprouts
2 garlic cloves, chopped
For the chili paste - to be blended
5-6 pieces, dried red chili
2 fresh red chili
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon water
Salt to taste
Sauce mixture - mix and set aside
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon brown/white sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS - Follow cooking in this order and you will not go wrong!
1. Blend chili paste ingredients. Add water little by little to get the blender going, but make sure not to add too much.
2. Fry with oil until paste is dry and colour darkens.
3. Prepare all your ingredients and bowl of soy mixture. The frying of the noodles happens really quickly, so having everything ready is important.
4. Fry Chinese sausage and prawns on medium heat until cooked. Add 1 teaspoon soy mixture to flavour the prawns at this stage. Turn the prawns and make sure both sides has turned pink.
5. Add flat noodles, bean sprouts and 1 teaspoon soy mixture. Fry until noodles are well separated.
6. Push noodles aside, scramble and fry eggs.
7. Add 2 tablespoon chili paste and mix all ingredients well. Add more or less to your liking.
8. Increase heat and continue to stir fry and make sure egg is cooked and noodles are separated.
9. Add 1 tablespoon soy mixture and fry quickly. The noodles should be a much darker colour at this stage. You can add more chili paste/soy mixture to your liking.
10. Still on high heat, leave the noodles to dry and "char" without mixing it for 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately after with a wedge of calamansi or lime.
ALY'S COOKING TIPS
1. Invest in a good quality non-stick pan/wok so that you do not have to use too much oil for frying. Traditional cooking requires a stainless steel wok however I prefer using a stainless steel one to control the amount of oil needed.
2. I LOVE the "charred" flavour in stir-fried noodles and fried rice. To achieve this, simply fry with a sweet ingredient on high heat and LEAVE IT TO BURN - do not fuss around with your spatula, do not move the food even if you hear it sizzling and burning. Do this for 2-3 minutes to get the blackened flavour. Why use a sweet element? The sweet ingredient caramelises and caused the "Char". For this recipe, the dark soy and brown sugar added to the "Char"!
3. Char Kway Teow typically contains cockles, squids and pork belly pieces - add to your liking please!
4. Prep your workstation and do all the cutting and prep work BEFORE you start frying. The steps in this recipe is how hawker uncles do it - it adds to the layering of flavours, follow their lead!