Sunday, 28 March 2010
M’sian cooking – Char kuay teow
Onion – the one on the right looking like it’s been to one too many dinners (though it wasn’t dinner, oh the hysterics).
I’m not even sure why I’m posting this picture up, but the pestle is not something you usually find in an English kitchen, and it was looking quite used so I decided to take a picture of it.
Oookay, so, char kuay teow means fried kuay teow. Kuay teow is flat, rice-flour noodle commonly used in soups, or, you guessed it, fried. Sometimes also known as hor fun, depending on which part of the country you come from.
To get a reaaaally good char kuay teow (you know, the kind which makes you wish you hadn’t begun eating that portion of yours so you could start eating it all over again, yes that kind), you need:
a) a very, very hot wok, preferably a seasoned one which has seen better char kuay teows
b) good quality kuay teow – thinner ones which come fresh are better than the dehydrated ones you find as the rehydration process sometimes breaks up the noodle strands and you get fried broken pieces of noodles.
Some people like a mixture of yellow noodles with the kuay teow, as this gives a nice contrast in texture and taste. Pictured above is mainly, again, you guessed it, yellow noodle. The kuay teow is in the pink bowl.
c) a mixture of soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, prawn stock or prawn essence – this is pretty much what makes or breaks the dish. A good prawn stock can be made by frying up the heads of the prawns (which will be mentioned later) in oil, until cooked, and discarding the prawn heads, keeping just the orange-coloured oil. Mix that with the other sauces mentioned with a bit of sugar to get a bowl of sauce which can be splashed into the wok in a professional manner.
d) peeled prawns
e) eggs – not necessarily with condensation as shown above. It was really hot, and these eggs had only JUST been taken out of the fridge. The eggs are thrown into the dish just before serving, kinda like the glue bringing the dish together.
f) Chinese sausage, or lap cheong – cut into small pieces and shallow-fried to give it a nice, crispy bite. This is added into the kuay teow dish at the start to give the oil the flavour it needs.
g) chopped garlic
i) chives, cut into 2-inch long pieces
Now, to get from bits of ingredient to the finished product.
1. Heat up the oil in the seasoned wok.
2. Throw in the chopped garlic, Chinese sausage and some chilli paste if you like it spicy. Let that fry for a while until the flavours start blending.
3. Thrown in the noodles – only a handful, please. I know this because I usually throw in more than I should, because it looks so little in the big wok … Stir that around in quick, precise movements, like all professional CKT chefs do.
4. Three to four tablespoons of the sauce mixture, depending on how you like the dish to be. Keep stirring, nearly there …
5. Push the noodles to the side of the wok, and crack the egg in the middle of the wok, adding some sauce into the egg while stirring it to scramble it. Before the egg cooks completely, stir the noodles back into the mixture, let it cook for a tiny while more. Add in the beansprouts and chives (so that it only just cooks), and then …
This is one of those dishes you really should try while you’re in Malaysia. Otherwise, Hare & Tortoise in the Brunswick Centre (nearest tube Russel Square) does a pretty decent version too. It’s not on the usual menu, as we ordered it from a ‘new items’ piece of paper, so maybe if it gets enough orders it might make it to the popular menu.
I can actually taste this.