Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hawker Noodle Goodness

Char Kway Teow is a popular hawker food dish. ‘Char’ means stir-fry and ‘kway teow’ is rice noodles. The dish is basically rice noodles stir-fried with your choice of seafood, bean sprouts, Chinese chives, Chinese sausage and egg, with a soy sauce mixture and chilli paste with gives it its distinctive light brown colour, tinged with red from the chilli.


  • Fresh Rice Noodles

You can buy this from Asian groceries from the refrigerator section.

These noodles are already cooked but are stuck together. To separate the rice noodles you will need to zap them in the microwave (30-60 seconds) until they have softened enough to be separated with chopsticks or use your hands.

  • Chinese sausage (lap cheong)

You still need to precook the Chinese sausage by steaming it for 10 minutes and then slicing into thin diagonal pieces.

  • Chinese chives

  • Prawns, shelled/deveinedo
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Egg
  • Crushed garlic
  • Crab Meat
  • Peanut Oil
  • Dried red chillies
  • Fresh red Chillies
  • Shallot
  • Fish sauce
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • White pepper
  • Light soy sauce
  • Dark soy sauce
Recommended - Pearl River Bridge Brand of soy sauces.

Firstly, I prepared the chilli paste by pounding together 2 tablespoons of dried red chillies (pre-soaked until soft), 2 fresh red chillies, 3 small shallots and pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle. Heat some oil in a wok and fry the chilli paste continuously until aromatic and set aside.

Pre-mix the sauce in a bowl – 5 tablespoons of light soy sauce, 1 ½ tablespoon of dark soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 teaspoons fish sauce, ½ teaspoon salt and some ground white pepper.

Now to cooking the Char Kway Teow.

It is important when cooking this dish that you have wok hei, known as the ‘breath of the wok’. This means that the wok needs to be very hot and the noodles are fried quickly over the high heat which will give the noodles a special ‘charred’ aroma.

It is best to fry one serve of noodles at a time.

Heat wok over high heat until it starts to smoke, then add in some oil (around 2 tablespoons) and crushed garlic, and fry for a few seconds.

Add some prawns, fish cake and Chinese sausage into the wok and fry until the prawns start to turn pink.

Then add in the bean sprouts and rice noodles.

Stir fry everything together to combine and then add in some of the sauce mixture, and season with some salt and pepper to taste.

Push the noodles to one side and crack an egg into it. Use spatula to scramble the egg yolk and the egg white together. Then cover the eggs with the noodles, wait a few seconds and then stir fry all together.

Add in some of the chilli paste to desired spiciness.

Then add the chives and crab meat and stir fry until everything is combined.

Verdict: The char kway teow was delicious but I was missing some wok hei.

When I was looking for a place to move out last year, a deal breaker for me was whether or not the kitchen had a gas stove. When I saw an electric stove I would walk out of the rent inspection as I knew that I would find it hard to cook with an electric stove. Electric stoves do not produce the large amounts of quick even heat required for woks for stir frying. But my gas stove at home doesn’t provide the high intensity flames that is needed to produce wok hei.

(My gas stove at home)

To achieve wok hei, I need an industrial or charcoal stove used by restaurants which produce high temperature flames. When my dad cooks noodle dishes, he often cooks it at the restaurant and then brings it home as he would complain that he cannot get enough wok hei using the gas stove at home.

Wok hei -->


  1. wow, when you told me you were really into cooking I didn't know you were this into cooking! If you can show me how to make a Char Siu Pau then I'll be really impressed :)

  2. My dad owns a Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant, i guess it's in the family!

    I have made char siu before but not char siu pau. I'll put that on the list, there are still a lot of things I need to learn to cook.

  3. hmmm I LOVE kway teoh NOM NOM...