Char kway teow, considered one of the national dishes of Singapore, is also a popular street-hawker dish in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. Traditionally it is stir-fried in lard and topped with an unusual type of cockle bursting with dark red juices known as a blood cockle, but I’ve used peanut oil to be a bit healthier and normal clams as you can’t get blood cockles here for love or money. Wok hei (the “essence” imparted by a hot wok during stir-frying) is important for this dish—in fact, I recommend cooking each portion separately to ensure optimum flavor and texture.–MiMi Aye
LC Salty Sweet Note
We’re insanely giddy about this noodle concoction. It was on the menu at a contemporary, grunge-meets-the-real-deal Malaysian place around the corner from our editor-in-chief when she lived in Manhattan, and she was a fool for it. Mind you, this is street food. As such, it’s gloppy, salty, and, yes, a touch greasy. And we love it. The restaurant served a variant on this, and we’ve played around with the recipe in our home kitchens—swapping out the clams for more shrimp, omitting the sausage and instead adding chunks of roast pork, even tossing in crabmeat. Just be mindful of the fact that it’s already got sufficient salt and oil to see you through any hangover. The only element common to Southeast Asian cooking that’s missing is sour, and that’s easily remedied by setting some lime wedges out for guests to squeeze over their plates. But it’s really not necessary. Just focus on the primary ingredients and you’ll be good. Quite good, actually. Here’s what the author suggests in terms of sourcing said ingredients…oh, and for your shopping ease, we left the size on imported packaged ingredients in grams so you don’t have to stand there in the crowded grocery aisle mentally tackling conversions and other unnecessary mathematics.
I use peanut oil for all my cooking. It heats well, deep-fries beautifully, and has a clean, neutral taste. If you’re allergic to peanuts, feel free to substitute a neutral-flavored oil that can be used for frying.
Broad, flat rice noodles—aka ribbon noodles—are used across Asia where they are generally known by the Chinese names of ho fun and chow fun. Think of them as the rice version of tagliatelle. Slightly chewy in texture. Found either fresh in strips or sheets that can be cut to the desired width or dried in packages. Kway teow is also a flat, broad noodle, used mainly in Malaysia and Singapore, that’s found fresh in strips or sheets that can be cut to the desired width or dried in large shrink-wrapped bundles in Asian supermarkets. Differs from ho fun in that kway teow is technically made from rice cakes sliced into strips and is therefore slightly stiffer than ho fun, but the two are interchangeable in most recipes.
Chinese Sausage (Lap Cheong)
Dried, fatty, sweet, chewy sausage that is usually sold in bundles. Typically called for in preparations that involve frying.
A readymade bouncy mash of fish and rice flour or wheat flour that can be sliced and fried.
Light Soy Sauce
I’m quite picky about the brand I use (Pearl River Bridge Superior Light Soy Sauce) and suggest you use the same.
Dark Soy Sauce
Mostly used to add color and sweetness in cooking
Char Kway Teow
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 25 M
- Serves 2
IngredientsEmail Grocery List
Recipe Testers Reviews
If you like pad Thai, you'll love this recipe. The textures and flavors are very similar, although this is much more rustic and rich in flavor. I am excited to make and share this with my guests and family again! This was definitely a Leite's Testers' Choice recipe due to the rustic appeal and the intense flavor profile of the interesting ingredients. I love street food made with basic ingredients found locally around the world. This dish gave me a very satisfying feeling of comfort. It was easy enough to find most of the ingredients at one of my local Asian stores, and I bought the seafood at a local fish market (I substituted fresh shelled clams for the cockles).
My tasters loved the rich flavors, and the nice (but not too spicy) heat of the chile sauce. The clams added great flavor along with some nice texture. If you don't like the taste of clams, just leave them out and add more shrimp instead.
It is important to have all ingredients prepped and ready in order of the stir-fry process. It takes about 10 minutes to complete the entire stir-fry.
I used dried rice noodles because I had them in my pantry. I would like to try the fresh ho fun noodle next time. The dried noodles came in a 14-ounce pack, and I used all of them instead of the 200 grams (7 ounces). Seemed like it was better with more noodles per batch because of the amount of oil soy sauce suggested.
I thought the amount of soy sauce was just on the edge of being too salty. That said, I may tweak or leave out the light soy sauce. I used Kikkoman (light), Pearl River Bridge Superior Dark Soy Sauce, and Kwong Hung Seng Sauce Sweet Soy. I also used Dynasty brand Thai Chile Garlic Paste instead of Sriracha, along with a dash of white pepper.
I thought the 8 tablespoons peanut oil sounded like too much, but it's definitely just the right amount to keep the noodles moist enough and avoid sticking and scorching in the pan. The noodles absorb the oil and become a bit chewy and sticky. I had fresh spring chives in my garden, so I used those instead of scallions. YUM!
This is a terrific street noodle dish that can be on your table in under half an hour. The combination of mixed seafood and sweet Chinese sausage tossed with noodles in a savory and slightly sweet sauce with as much or as little chile heat as you like is irresistible. The technique in this recipe is spot-on—just make sure your wok is hot enough. The technique of pushing everything up the side of the wok worked just fine for me. (If the odd piece of shrimp slides back down, don't worry about it.) As written, the spice level in this recipe is mild. Up the chile sauce if you want more heat. I'd also up the quantity of garlic chives a bit, but I really like garlic chives. I made this recipe again last night with the lump crabmeat substitution in place of cockles. Awesome. This was definitely an improvement—sure, not traditional, but really, really good. Hell, how can adding crabmeat to something be bad? I also upped the chile sauce just a tad—not by much at all, just a tiny squirt more to give the dish more heat.
I used the option of dried rice noodles for this recipe, buying the widest I could find. They were about 1/2 inch wide. The author of this recipe is based in the UK, where you can get cockles much more easily than in the US, and you can get them already shelled. I opted for frozen cockles from my Asian market, which were still in the shell, but because they were cooked before freezing, the shells opened up easily. Even better, these were the actual blood cockles that are traditional for this dish. Since the cockles go into the stir-fry at the very end, the fact that they are pre-cooked is not an issue. If you are buying cockles in the shell, whether fresh or frozen, you'll need about 500 grams cockles to get the 100 grams meat for this recipe. I found a gluten-free lap cheong, so I used it. One link was 66 grams. I'm really not sure what to recommend as a substitute, because the lap cheong is sweeter than any other sausage I can think of. I used a Thai brand of fishcake, as it was the only brand I could find that was gluten-free.