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Bernard Rieux

12:44 am: Char Kway Teow

For almost three years, it's been the one dish I've really wanted to make but couldn't get right: char kway teow. Some of my previous half dozen attempts were edible, but none were good and none were recognizable. This one is credible, but I'd like to do better.

For char kway teow in the Boston area, Aneka Rasa (Allston) or Penang (Harvard Square and Chinatown) are both great; I wouldn't recommend Tiger Lily (The Fenway). In the bay area, Banana Leaf (Milpitas) is very good, or there's my kitchen (Monterey).

Vegetarian Char Kway Teow

This recipe is based on several that I found on the web and altered to reflect my experience after many attempts. Most of these quantities are rough estimates:

  • 7 oz dried, flat rice noodles (mine came in a 14 oz bag, of which I used about half)
  • 2 eggs
  • large white onion, chopped very coarsely
  • 6-8 green onions, chopped coarsely
  • 2 or 3 green chiles, sliced finely (I used serranos because they're easy to find)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, sliced diagonally
  • 1 fl oz soy sauce
  • 1 fl oz dark sweet soy sauce (this was hard to find)
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 t chile paste
  • vegetable oil and/or butter (I prefer a mixture)

Next time I plan to add:

  • Bean sprouts
  • Mushrooms; several varieties?
  • Dried tofu?

I did okay with a small, thin, non-stick skillet, but this would be much better in a wok.

  1. Prepare noodles. Pour boiling water over them, stir, and let them soak until reasonably soft. Strain.
  2. Cook eggs. Scramble them quickly, in the pan, making them pretty thin. I do one at a time and spread it over about 60 square inches. Put cooked eggs aside.
  3. Stir fry vegetables. Put a small amount of oil/butter in the pan, over medium heat, and add onions, carrots, or any other more durable vegetables. Once the onions become soft, add chiles, green onions, garlic, and any other more delicate vegetables. Stir fry until the garlic is golden brown. Set all this aside with the eggs.
  4. Make noodles chewy. Turn the heat up to high and add more oil/butter. Brown the noodles, taking care not to break them up too much. They should get darker and very chewy.
  5. Put it all together. Mix the soy sauces, sugar, chile paste, and maybe a little water. Push the noodles to the side, and pour this sauce in the pan. Once it heats up, toss with the noodles. Add vegetables and eggs and mix everything together.

Serves 2. In a large wok, this could easily be doubled or tripled.

Current Music: "Bigmouth Strikes Again"


[User Picture]
Date:June 20th, 2006 02:32 pm (UTC)
As you may know from the last time we hung out, I love Char Kueh Teow, too. The best I've had is also at Penang, but the one I went to was on Washington St. in Chinatown, Boston.
Stupid vegitarian, Char Kueh Teow is for omnivores.
[User Picture]
Date:June 20th, 2006 05:57 pm (UTC)
i can't believe that was the last time we hung out! seriously.

the best i've had is at the harvard square penang, but i hear that the chinatown penang is pretty much the same. the worse i've had is at tiger lily -- it didn't taste like anything.

omnivorous addendum:

if you eat meat, use less soy sauce and a large amount of fish sauce. add shrimp, squid, chinese sausage, and/or cockles, whatever they are.
[User Picture]
Date:June 20th, 2006 07:52 pm (UTC)
I also had Char Kueh Teow at ma soba on Cambridge Street in Boston. It wasn't very good at all because they added little of the goodies (i.e. shrimp, squid) that I had come to expect. OK, this is making me have a HUGE craving...
[User Picture]
Date:June 20th, 2006 08:07 pm (UTC)
i've never been to that ma soba, but the harvard square ma soba really sucked and then was replaced by finale.
[User Picture]
Date:June 20th, 2006 06:07 pm (UTC)
mmmm thanks for the recipe. i wish i was more often in that area. i've only been to penang that one time.
[User Picture]
Date:June 20th, 2006 06:49 pm (UTC)
are you still in delaware or wherever it was you were?

penang is DEFINITELY worth going to. the recipe works too, but they make it better than i could.
[User Picture]
Date:June 24th, 2006 11:17 am (UTC)
or there's my kitchen (Monterey)

I may take you up on that. :) I'll be in Monterey at least once before mid-July to visit friends at the Hopkins Marine Station, and I've never had char kway teow.
[User Picture]
Date:June 24th, 2006 07:03 pm (UTC)
Oh, please do. The place in Milpitas is also quite excellent, and I would be glad to go there any time.
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