May 14, 2012

Best recipe for char kuey teow

One week into the start of the new season of Masterchef and I have two favourite contestants. The first one (formerly from Singapore) cooked a Nyonya recipe on Day One. The second one (a Caucasian) stirred up some char kuey teow for her audition dish. She says she lived in Malaysia for some time and this was her favourite food! Alright, so I'm terribly biased...

I was born in Penang, the land of char kuey teow. Penang people are food snobs because we believe the best hawker food in Malaysia is found in Penang. Decades ago, Penang people were often hungry when we visited Kuala Lumpur. There was nothing edible! As the hawkers migrated to richer ground, the food in KL improved, but strangely, one is still hard pressed to find good char kuey teow in KL today.

(Just for fun fact: Decades ago, you could have brought your own egg to the char kuey teow man, and he would charge you slightly less by frying the kuey teow with your egg.)

This is the most authentic char kuey teow recipe I could find online. It has a wok; it says you should fry the dish individually, and rightly so; it has si ham (cockles); it has lard oil, chives, bean sprouts, lap cheong. Many recipes throw too many things in there that don't belong.

The recipe does well, but I don't have an iron cast wok, and no fried kuey teow can be fried properly without an iron wok that sits atop a really big fire. Witness the crummy pix above.

For a pix of how good char kuey teow should look like, check out these of the lorong selamat and swatow lane stalls in Penang.

I love cockles too, they are a must in Fried Kuey Teow and Curry Mee. But I've never seen it in Sydney - I've found a lot of things, even fairly obscure stuff like petai (stinkbean) but never cockles. I wonder why?


  1. We LOVE 'see ham' too but can't find it here in the UK either. Must be South East Asian specific!

  2. This is great article
    Thank you for the recipe
    I will try to cook

  3. This is a topic of my interest. I love reading through your blog,I’ve read through a number of the articles in your website, and I love the way you blog. I wanted to leave a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuation.