Penang is very well known for its char kuey teow and this dish is at the top of everyone's list when they visit. Apart from anything else, it's always so interesting to watch the hawkers prepare it.
Some use charcoal fire and others have a gas stove, but every hawker knows that the secret to a good char kuey teow is to work fast and cook it in a cast-iron wok over very high heat to give it its distinctive charred flavour or 'wok hei' (breath of the wok).
Serves 2, generously
500 g fresh kuey teow (flat rice noodles)
80 ml (1/3 cup) vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon Malaysian dried chilli paste
1 lap cheong (Chinese sausage), sliced diagonally
8 – 10 large banana prawns, peeled and deveined, tails intact
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 eggs (preferably duck eggs)
180 g (2 cups) bean sprouts, washed and drained
2 small handfuls of garlic chives, cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) in lengths
Prepare the rice noodles according to the packet instructions. Loosen the strands so they do not clump together and break when you stir-fry them. Set aside. Make sure you have all your ingredients prepped and within reach before you start cooking as the process will be super quick.
Heat a wok over high heat until it becomes a bit smoky. Add the oil, immediately followed by the garlic and chilli paste and give it a quick stir. Add the lap cheong and stir briefly, then add the prawns and stir with a spatula for 1 minute or just until the turn pink. We do not want them fully cooked yet.
Push the ingredients to the side of the wok and add the rice noodles followed by the soy sauces and the oyster sauce. Stir fry until some of the noodle get a little charred – this will take less than 1 minute.
Push the ingredients to the side of the wok again and crack in the eggs. Let the cook undisturbed for about 20 seconds, the break the yolks and quickly mix everything together. Add the bean sprouts and garlic chives and stir for 30-40 seconds. Serve immediately.
Extracted from Penang Local by Aim Aris & Ahmad Salim, out now from Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99.