Char Kway Teow is a popular street food in Malaysia. Pre-soaked rice noodles are quickly stir-fried over high heat in single serving batches to get a good charr on the rice noodles. The noodles are mixed with a flavorful sauce loaded with soy sauce, red chilis, ginger, garlic and dark caramel soy (or molasses). The sugar content helps the charring resulting in a savory, umami, sweet and spicy dish that is addicting to eat. The shrimp cooks fast and adds a depth of flavor and protein. Add some crunchy bean sprouts and fresh green onions at the end for contrast. I love how rice noodles absorb the flavor. A big benefit is that rice noodles are gluten free too! This recipe was adapted from AsianInspirations.com.au.
As an Italian home cook, I rarely use rice noodles. After making this recipe I am eager to try more dishes with them. They are easy to work with – soak in warm water for 25 minutes and then stir fry with a flavored sauce. They hold their structure well and absorb flavor like a sponge.
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Char Kway Teow
- 4 cups boiling water
- 16 ounces flat wide rice noodles (break in half if needed)
- 3 dried red chillies split and seeds removed (adjust to taste)
- 2 large shallots
- 3 cloves garlic
- Juice of a lime
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons dark soy caramel can substitute bead molasses if necessary
- 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil
- 1 pound raw shrimp peeled, deveined, tail remaining
- 1 egg beaten in a small cup
- 2 cups fresh crunchy bean sprouts
- 3 green onions sliced longways and in 2 inch pieces
Place rice noodles and dried chilies in a large glass bowl. Pour enough boiling water over the noodles and chilis to cover by at least an inch. Let soak and soften for 25 minutes. Drain. Be sure to keep rice strands separated. Do not over soak. They will cook further during the stir-fry.
Place chilies in a small food processor, along with garlic, shallots, salt and lime juice process to form a paste. Set aside.
Combine soy sauce and soy caramel/molasses, fish sauce, sugar and white pepper in a bowl. Set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil in a wok over high heat, add chili paste and stir-fry for 2 -3 minutes until fragrant. Add the shrimp and stir-fry for 2 -3 minutes until just turned pink. Remove shrimp and set aside.
Add drained rice noodles and stir-fry until no moisture is remaining, about 1 - 2 minutes. Add soy sauce mixture and stir-fry until noodles are charred a bit and well coated in the sauce.
Push the rice noodles aside and make a clear space in the wok, then add the remaining tablespoon of oil and egg into the oil. Stir, then quickly cover it up with noodles and let it cook for 10 to 15 seconds before you start stir-frying again.
Return the shrimp and toss until coated and warmed up.
Add bean sprouts and spring onions. Give a toss or two and turn off the heat. Transfer to a serving plate. Serve immediately.
Note: Char Kway Teow is often cooked in batches to ensure that the noodles get enough surface heat for the charring and fast cooking. Since this serves 2-4 people you can stir-fry it in two batches.