Food Stall: Char Kway Teow
One of my favorite foods to get when I go to the hawker stalls is char kway teow. I guess it isn’t all that good for you because it is an absorbent carbohydrate noodle fried in a saturated fat.
Koay Teow is the transliteration of the Hokkien term for rice noodles. These are not the thin rice noodles, which is called bee hoon, or bihun. These noodles are often about a centimeter in width. Wider noodles are called hefen, or soemtimes, chow fun. They are all cooked in boiling water before they are fried.
What I like about it is the variety on my plate. There’s the rice noodles. Then there’s often an assortment of veggies. My local hawker stall makes it with bean sprouts, green onions, and garlic. He adds boneless chicken and prawns. There’s also some fried egg as well. A red paste made from fresh and dried chili peppers is also available. I ask for half spice in mine, and my wife has the chili peppers omitted completely for hers.
There is a lot of variation from stall to stall. Another stall near me serves theirs with cockles. I’ve seen some with beef, although I’m told that is atypical for Penang Char Koay Teow.
Here’s a picture of the fried oysters that are also sold at this particular stand. It’s more like an oyster omelet. I remember these from when my family went to Taiwan when I was younger. So I guess this dish has Chinese-Hokkien roots.
Share your favorite hawker stand dishes below in the comments.