The Noodle Series: Char Kuey Teow

The Char Kuey Teow is a highly revered Malaysian dish and Penang, a state on the northwest coast  of Peninsular Malaysia takes the trophy on this baby; especially with interesting variations by adding lap cheong (chinese sausage) and belachan (shrimp paste). Char Kuey Teow may be ubiquitous, even appearing on almost every Chinatown eatery there is in Melbourne BUT you have not tasted the real deal unless you’ve graced the shores of Malaysia. Ok, I admit, there is some national pride here when it comes to Char Kuey Teow and somehow, it is not the same anywhere else but many do come close. But beware! There is a linear relationship between variable X Tasty and variable Y Clogged Arteries. So it ain’t that healthy my friend, especially when the real thing could use fats like lard for deeper flavour and the charred bits that give it that lovely smokiness could have a carcinogenic effect. But hey, I’m not here to bad-mouth the Char Kuey Teow but it should only be an occasional treat! I can attest to this myself, having downed a plate of it for dinner tonight and I must say as delicious as it was, my taste buds are still singing, possibly from the high sodium content and poawaahhh, do I feel lethargic after that!

Before I leap into the makings of my Char Kuey Teow, there’s the topic of the Si Ham (pronounced see-hum), which are cockles. Purist will tell you a plate of Char Kuey Teow MUST come with cockles. I’ve got news for you my fellow readers; me and cockles don’t gell. Is that a faint gasp of shock I hear? Almost everyone I know digs it; my sisters, my hubby, my mom, dad, cousins, friends. So if you like or dislike Si Ham, let me know and I’ll draw up two groups. Hehe.I just can’t stand the taste and texture of Si Ham although I LOVE clams and pippies. It could be due to the traumatising image that welcomed me when I was a kid at my grandma’s house; I walked into her kitchen just when they took out a steaming bowlful of cockles, covered in blood and the smell! Bleccchhhh!

So, on to my Char Kuey Teow; I used prawns and fish cake as the goodies and chives are a must when making this. Eggs too, to complete the flavour. Unfortunately, due to my excruciating eye-stinging experience with dried chillies (they’re bloody hot!) I did not make my own chilli paste. Having said that, I went hunting for a suitable chilli paste and I could not find any fresh ones, so my best bet was the sambal section. I spent 1 hour scanning the aisles of two asian grocery stores, as I refused to get sambal with shrimp in it and no bottled Sambal Oelek too as it is sourish from the vinegar. After squinting for that long, I settled on a jar of vegetarian sambal; it has all the essential chillis, shallots and oil minus shrimp and tasted pretty good too. Although, when I’ve recovered from the chilli-eye-squirt incident, I will make a fresh paste.

My Char Kuey Teow turned out pretty good (but like I said, nothing beats the ones back home) but it will be awhile before I make this again for the sake of my arteries and sodium levels 😉

serves 3

185 g prawns
110 g fish cake
750 g fresh kuey teow, stir-fry flat rice noodles
70 g fresh chives, cut to 3cm lengths
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
200g bean sprouts
1/4 cup oil
3 eggs
2 heap teaspoons chilli paste (more if you like it spicier)
a dash of white pepper

for the sauce
1 tablespoon thick (dark) caramel sauce or thick soy sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons water


  1. Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl
  2. Prepare and layout all ingredients and place them close to the wok. Everything should be accesible as frying the Char Kuey Teow is a quick process. 
  3. Heat oil in the wok until very hot, almost smoking. Add in the garlic and prawns and stir-fry rapidly until prawns are cooked.
  4. Add in the fish cake and cook for 30 seconds.
  5. Next, throw in the chives and stir-fry for a few seconds.
  6. Add in the rice noodles, stir-fry rapidly for a few seconds; then pour in all the sauce, dash of pepper and chilli paste and continue stir-frying rapidly for about 1 minute. Use two spatulas to help in the stir-frying.
  7. Add in all the bean sprouts and stir-fry through for 20 seconds so sprouts remain crunchy.
  8. Push all ingredients to one side, and crack the eggs into the centre of the wok. Scramble eggs with the spatula and once almost dry (still a little wet), push all the fried ingredients over the eggs and continue stir-frying, mixing well. This should take about 40 seconds until the scrambled eggs have dried up a little.
  9. Dish out and serve  hot

Note: Yes, for Si Ham/cockles enthusiasts, you may add them to your char kuey teow

Assemble all your ingredients (left out the oil in this picture)


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