Monday, 9 April 2012

Recipe - Singapore Char Kway Teow (Fried Flat Rice Noodles)

This humble dish of stir fried noodles with fresh cockles has become a Singapore icon. What is distinctive about Singapore char kway teow is the use of cockles as a key ingredient.

Where can you find the best char kway teow in Singapore ?
Opinions differ, but popular ones would include:

Hill Street Char Kway Teow
Bedok South Road Market & Food Centre #01-187 
Blk 16 Bedok South Road S(460016)
Lunch and dinner
Closed on Mondays

Lao Fu Zi Fried Kway Teow
Old Airport Road Food Centre  #01-12
51 Old Airport Road  S(390051)
Lunch and dinner

Closed on Wednesdays

Cockles are available at Fairprice Extra ($2.50/kg) and Shop N Save ($1.90). At Fairprice Extra, cockles are sold loose. Pick the live ones. How to check them for signs of life?. Dead ones gape slightly, will not close when disturbed while live ones will snap shut.

Cockles live in shallow mud. Ineveitably there will be mud in the shell. To cook this dish, prepare the cockles first. One way to take meat out is to use a knife and pry open the shell. This is tedious.

The recommended way for home cooking is to parboil them. Bring a pot of water to the boil. Wash the cockles and put them in the boiling water. Within a minute or two, the shells will pop open. Take them out, take out the meat and rinse them. They are ready for the wok or frying pan.

The next key ingredient is the sweet sauce. Typically, the noodles are cooked with a mix of sweet sauce and fish sauce or light sauce. The quantity and brand of sauces used affect the taste. Some taste so good that people keep going back for more.

After many tries at cooking char kway teow, I settle for this brand called "Sari Sedap" sweet sauce. Made in Indonesia, it has palm sugar which makes the sauce fragrant. It has salt, so it is a convenient all in one sauce, sweet and salty at the same time. For one serving, 2 tbs (tablespoon) is enough.

Now we are ready to go. This is a quick cooking dish and all ingredients must be ready.

Ingredients (for one serving)

garlic ... 2 cloves finely chopped
chilli paste ... 1 tsp (optional)
beansprouts ... a handful
chinese chives ... a handful, cut into toothpick length
flat rice noodles ...80 gm
yellow noodles .....30 gm
chinese sausage .. a few slices (if you have)
fish cake ..... a few slices
egg ...1
cockles ... about 10 pcs
sweet sauce (sari sedap) ...2 tbs
cooking oil ... 2 tbs

The wonderful thing about cooking at home is I can vary the ingredients, especially adding more vegetables.
In this video, seetoh from makansutra shows how to cook.
With the sari sedap sweet sauce, there is no need to use fish sauce.

Let's take a look at the Hill Street Char Kway Teow man cooking his noodles.
At the 0.17 mark, notice that he added crispy shallots which will add fragrance to the dish.

A Malaysian version of char kway teow

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