Char Kway Teow/Fried Flat Rice Noodles (炒粿條)
Char Kway Teow/炒粿條/Fried Flat Rice Noodles, is my old-time favourite and popular dish in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Many of us will relate this dish to Penang whenever it is mentioned. And yes, Penang Char Kway Teow is indeed something that shouldn’t be missed when one visits Penang. Every time I visit Penang, I always make sure I have Char Kway Teow a few times before I leave! Apart from this dish, Penang Asam Laksa is another one that I make sure I savour too!
Never did I know that there is a story behind this dish. In its early days, Char Kway Teow was mostly sold by fishermen and farmers who doubled up as food peddlers at night to supplement their income; they used to use leftovers from meals to whip up this dish, hence its multiple ingredient mix.
Fresh flat rice noodles of 1cm is stir fried with ingredients like prawns, eggs, deshelled cockles, bean sprouts, slices of Chinese dried sausages (lap cheong), fishcake, Chinese chives, fresh chilli paste and seasoned with light and dark soya sauce. Yes, it does sound like there are lots of ingredients, which make this dish so scrumptious! For those that can’t take spiciness, of course, chilli paste can be opted out. When I order my Char Kway Teow at a hawker’s stall, I normally say, “Extra bean sprouts and more chilli”.
To me, Char Kway Teow is equivalent to Pad Thai in Thailand. Though there are slight differences in ingredients and seasonings between these two dishes. Otherwise, both look pretty similar.
Long time ago, a perfect plate of Char Kway Teow was cooked on charcoal stove, which gave a great smoky flavour to the dish. Use of pork fat and crispy pork lard in stir-frying was common. Even until now, some Chinese hawkers’ places still use pork fat and crispy pork lard, I believe. This though, applies only to Char Kway Teow served by Chinese food vendors. For the Muslim population in Malaysia, Char Kway Teow is called Kwetiau Goreng. Ingredients like beef and chicken are quite commonly added too.
Making Char Kway Teow at home is easy. Being miles away from Malaysia, I have always been making this dish to satisfy my cravings. My version of Char Kway Teow is very simple, I use only eggs, prawns, fishcake, bean sprouts (lots of them that give freshness and crunchy texture), and spring onions (to substitute Chinese chives). Of course, homemade chilli paste is mandatory for me! Even if less ingredients are used, the taste is just as fantastic!
I don’t use pork fat nor pork lard for health reason and I guess, most of us at home may not have easy access to these compared to vegetable oil. So, vegetable oil is a better option for me to make this dish. I am not a big fan of cockles, but you can definitely add them to have more flavours and texture. Talking about texture, I tend to add bean sprouts at the very last stage to maintain its crunchiness and freshness. If you prefer to have softer texture of bean sprouts, just cook for a few more minutes.
Note: If you prefer to make simple chili paste from scratch at home instead of using those from the shops, you can prepare in big batches and freeze in small quantity (about 1 tbsp or less each) wrapped in cling film and formed into small packages. You will then have homemade chili paste at your disposal when you need. I make big batches by using about 300g dry chilies, soaked and deseeded. Blend until become a paste. Then, scoop about a tablespoon of the chili paste and place on a small pre-cut square cling film and form little package. Repeat until finish.
For the Char Kway Teow/Fried Flat Rice Noodles (炒粿條):
500g fresh flat rice noodles or dried thick rice sticks
2-3 tbsp sunflower oil
250g prawns, shelled & deveined
120g bean sprouts, trimmed off brown parts
3-4 stalks spring onions/Chinese chives, cut into 5cm
100g fishcake, sliced
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp chilli paste (sambal olek)
2 tbsp dark soya sauce
2 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
white pepper to taste
2 tbsp water
1. Mix all seasoning ingredients. Then set aside.
2. If using fresh flat rice noodles, the noodles usually come stuck together, gently separate them. If they are too oily, place on a kitchen towel to soak up some oil. If dried thick rice sticks are used, prepare according to packet’s instruction.
3. Heat wok on high. When it’s hot enough put in oil, then toss in prawns. Cook the prawns just turn opaque, add in chopped garlic. Stir and cook until the prawns turn pink. Push these ingredients to the edge of the wok, put in chili paste (if used). Stir fry for about 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Then, add in flat rice noodles. Pour in the seasoning mixture. Mix everything, give it a good stir and cook for 3-5 minutes.
4. Make a circular space in the middle of the wok by pushing all the ingredients to the edges of the wok. Add a little bit of oil if needed, then, crack in eggs and slightly scramble them, cook for 1 minute or so. Slightly push to the edge of wok. Toss in sliced fishcake and cook for 1-2 minutes to heat up as fishcakes bought from the shops are usually cooked.
5. Eventually, put in spring onions or Chinese chives if using, and bring all ingredients in the wok together and mix well. Lastly, add in bean sprouts, give it a good stir to make sure that all ingredients get mixed evenly. Serve hot.
Char koay teow, truly one of those foods that almost every Malaysian loves. I've never liked cockles and always pick them out of my plate! Your version looks yum, and I love the green fabric with the tiny white flowers!
I am like you that I pick the cockles out if I forgot to mention I didn't want them.
Your Char Kway Teow looks so yummy. I wish I can have this for my supper.
In Indonesia, the really popular ones are from Medan and Pontianak. In Medan, it has influenced from Hokkian, while in Pontianak, the influence came from Tio-Cio.
Kwetiau Medan consists fishballs, lap cheong, and duck eggs. Kwetiau Pontianak has beef and its intestine.
Pepy, that's very interesting! Thanks for sharing about the Char Kway Teow in Indonesia… I suppose, the ones from Medam are probably pretty similar like what we have in Malaysia. I have heard of some hawkers stalls using duck eggs but never tried.
Would love to try both the Indonesian Char Kway Teow!
I love this…with lots of taugeh and prawns. But I still miss the Penang char kway teow….so delicious.
Yeah, lots of taugeh and prawns…. I love them!!
Looks so yummy! My next fav noodle dish after fried Hokkien noodles =) my fav CKT store in KL is located in a Malay hawker centre, so I presume no pork fats allowed, but it is still so tasty! What brand of flat noodles you use? The one I tried don’t seem to hold together nicely.
I bought the fresh flat rice noodles from New Loon Moon, in Chinatown.. there's no brand, it's near to where they put the bean sprouts.
This looks amazing!!! I'm a huge sucker for any dish using wide rice noodles, I can NEVER get enough of the stuff!
Will have to try this soon, thanks for posting!
Thanks for dropping by! Try it out and let me know how you like this dish!
It’s hard to get good fish cakes over here. I am hungry for your CKT right now!
I usually get fishcake from Chinese supermarket.. love it in CKT.. heeh
I'll get my lo-kong to char kway teow this weekend … just bought kwayteow and the lot..
Cool!! I am sure both of you will enjoy char kway teow this weekend!
I love this! All your creations always turn out so beautiful and elegant 🙂
Thank you! 🙂
That looks fabulous..look like I need to make a trip to the Asian grocer tomorrow.
ehehhe.. I always make a special trip to Asian grocer when I crave for CKT.
i like this!!
Try it out and let me know!
I loved this dish and never knew there was a wonderful story behind it. Thanks god its weekend I can get my ingredients and make it. Yummy.
I never knew the story too! Let me know once you try!
Flavorful fried rice noodles are a favorite of mine, regardless of which Asian country they originate from. These look so tasty that I'm darned sad not to have any rice noodles in the house.
This is a great post on Penang Char Kway Teow! Of all the versions, I love Penang CKT the most since I grew up with it around the KL area. I'd say Pad Thai also isn't too shabby, too! I love the slight tang Pad Thai has. =)
You know what, I tried to replicate this when I was in the U.S., whereby I always had problems sourcing ingredients. Just like you, I replaced Chinese chives with scallions. No cockles, as I couldn't find them … but I myself am a cockle fan! Hehe … Oh, I love my bean sprouts crunchy too!
Surprisingly, lard comes in tub … like Crisco shortening, in the U.S. So, I could get lard in that form easily. I know it was sinful, but I melted a bit of the lard and used it together with cooking oil. Well, I'd say I didn't quite succeed in recreating CKT as I used electric stove. =(
I think Kwetiau Goreng lacks a bit of the "wok hei." Somehow, I noticed that the Malay vendors almost always cook theirs in bulk!? On the other hand, the Chinese always stir fry theirs order by order. Anyhow, both are good in their own ways. Definitely the beauty of Malaysian foods!
Thank you for sharing this! Happy Merdeka Day! =)
Totally agree with you with on the slight tang that Pad Thai has! I think I adore both dishes (being noodle freak…. LOL)..
Yeah, the Chinese always stir fry theirs by order, I think this is to make use of the temperature to create a great dish of CKT.. like you said wok hei.. I really prefer gas instead of electric stove..
Happy Merdeka to you too!
I had this dish when I was in Malaysia, Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing. Your photo is gorgeous too!
It is a very yummy dish.. I always make sure I eat it when I am back in Malaysia.. 🙂
Wow! Delicioussssss, want to make this for my dinner sometime this week. Although prawns are rather pricey and not good here…but I love sambal oelek, it goes with everything!
Hi there, do give it a try and let me know!
Looks so fresh and delicious.I have been thinking of cooking char keow teow. Will give it a try and let you know how it turns up. Hopefully, I don;’t make a mess of it. Thanks for posting and sharing the recipe.
Give it a try and yes would be great to know how it turns out! 🙂
Hey Leemei, dark soya sauce is the ‘hak yau’, right? The dark caramel sauce? Thanks.
You take beautiful pictures!
Thanks for dropping by and your kind words. Yes, caramel sauce. 🙂
Craving char kway teow now! Gonna have to make this soon 😉
I had for dinner and lunch.. hehe 😉
From this recipe, how many can it serve?
Serves about 4 people.
How many people will this serve?
Oops, please disregard my comment, just saw the guy above ask the same thing 🙂
Thanks For Sharing this amazing recipe. My family loved it. I will be sharing this recipe with my friends. Hope the will like it.