Though you can eat CKT at almost every corner of the streets in Penang, but for the love of cooking, I decided to learn the steps to making a decent plate of CKT. Mum always make CKT at home but is it just not the same as those that you eat out in the streets. I must confess, mine does not really taste the same either, but it tastes good enough to share with you. Hubby said it was nice and it DID tasted like the hawker’s CKT… so wokay! I marginally passed the taste test. Next time, I will make sure I pass with distinction :-P
Flat white noodles are used to cook up CKT. Freshly made ones can be found at most fresh markets whilst the dried packet versions are sold in Asian groceries and supermarkets. The fresh one is a better choice due to its super soft and silky texture. Prawns and cockles are popular to add in CKT along with Chinese sausages/lard.
Char Kuey Teow is best prepared one serving at a time, so if you’re cooking for 2, double up on the below ingredients. This is also the dry CKT; if you prefer it with a little gravy, add just a little bit of water along the cooking process. I might try the gravy(ier) version one of these days, which is popularly known as the Malay CKT. And, to achieve a tasty gravy, the prawn shells are kept intact!
:: Char Kuey Teow Recipe ::
1 cup flat white noodles (kuey teow)
5 medium-sized fresh prawns
6 cockles (don't worry if you don't have any)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Small handful of fresh chives, cut to 1-inch lengths
A handful of fresh crunchy bean sprouts
1 tablespoon chili paste (see A below, and reduce to half a tablespoon for less spicy taste)
1 tablespoon soy sauce mixture (see B below)
2 tablespoon cooking oil
Fresh Chives for CKT
The chili paste I madeA. Chili Paste
(Prepared in advance, and can be stored for future use)
200gm (roughly 2 cups) dried red chilies
1 fresh red chili, remove seeds and sliced
2 shallots, roughly sliced
1/3 cup water (to assist blending)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cooking oil (for frying)
Using scissors, cut the dried chilies in halves then soak them in warm water for 10 minutes. This is to separate the seeds (we want the chilies and not the handful of seeds) to clean it. Drain the chilies; discard as many seeds as you can. Place chilies in a food processor along with water, fresh red chili, shallots and salt. Blend well. Makes about 1 cuppa.
Heat up a small pan with oil, and fry the blended chili paste until slightly thickened and place in a small container.
B. Soy Sauce Mixture
(Prepared in advance)
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce (high caramel content)
3 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon sweet dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon white sugar
3 dash of white pepper
1 teaspoon fish sauce
Mix all of the above in a small container until well combined.
After preparing A, B and the rest of the ingredients, place them beside your stove, because you may need to be a Char Kuey Teow chef now. It would help if the ingredients were all ready and reachable!
You would need a wok for this. A flat pan would be a bit messy for this.. but doable :-P Now, if you're a pro, you probably won't even be ready the steps here to cook up CKT. But if you have never fried kuey teow, the heads up is, you will need to be fast. The wok needs to be hot, but not necessarily smoking hot unless you're a pro! You might end up burning the garlic even before frying the noodles (Confession: I almost did that...)
So here goes!
Heat up the wok on medium-high heat and pour cooking oil. When it's very hot, throw in garlic, prawns and cockles. Roughly stir. When the garlic is aromatic and prawns start changing colour, add the kuey teow.
Stir to loosen up the kuey teow and pour soy sauce mixture and chili paste. Quickly stir to combine and even out the soy sauce and chili with the kuey teow (about 30 seconds) and then add chives and bean sprouts.
Make a space at the bottom of the wok and crack open an egg and throw it in. Cover the egg with the noodles for about 10 seconds or so (still on high-medium heat), then quickly stir everything and immediately scoop up the Char Kuey Teow on to a serving plate. To add that 'street food' feel - place a freshly cut banana leaf on to the plate and place the Char Kuey Teow on it. Repeat again to make another serving.
1. If you're allergic to seafood, you can substitute prawns with thinly sliced beef or chicken.
2. I use olive oil or canola oil for a healthier choice (I do not like my char kuey teow too oily).
3. Dried flat noodles can be used if no fresh flat noodles are available, just soak them in warm water for about 20 minutes or until soften, and drain them. One packet normally serves about 4-6. CKT tastes best when small amount of noodles (1 cup) to cook at any one time for the reason that the soy sauce and chili paste blends easier in the shortest time.