I have only been to Penang a handful of times and all I remember (with the exception of most recently trip when we just went in and out for a gig) was how much I ate each time. But I’ll say my very first trip there back in 2009 was the most “filling”. Here are some of the culinary delights we sampled during the trip.
This was so good I had it 2 days in a row.
Ridiculously big prawns with that delicious coating. Pretty memorable.
That was my first introduction to Lok Lok and I still think Penang does it better than KL.
So creamy and the palm sugar gave such a depth of flavour. Loved it.
I’m not sure what this is called, but it’s a variety of Tong Shui that is sweet and refreshing.
And of course how could we leave Penang without trying Char Kueh Tiaw? It’s the first dish that comes into my mind actually (Assam Laksa doesn’t count since I never acquired a liking for it) and also the dish I’d like to share today.
Pretty late with my contribution to the Malaysian Food Fest this month, as I have been avoiding cooking/eating heaty food for the good half of the month. And most of the famous Penang dishes are not suitable with my current diet, until I gave in to my impulse/craving and cooked the infamous Char Kueh Tiaw. Sorry throat! I did follow up that dish with some cooling tea so no damage was done. Phew!
Penang Char Kueh (or Koay) Tiaw, 槟城炒粿条 is originally a Teochew dish (I learnt something new). Although this is not commonly prepared at home as you need the big fire either over charcoal or big stove to procure enough wok breath for that extra flavour. So even though my version is tasty enough in its own right, it will never be the same as the ones you get from the stalls. Good news though, it’s probably less heaty too (yes I know I’m constantly on about this, one day I shall write an article about the food I generally avoid in order to protect my voice).
The most important thing to do before cooking this is to get all your ingredients ready. The steps are so quick there’s no time to muck around trying to fetch each component. Kuah Tiaw noodles are delicate so extra care is needed when stiring them around. Broken noodles aren’t that enjoyable, not to mention they’ll so soggy sooner too.
This recipe came from Alan’s blog which he adapted from Ong Jin Teong’s “Penang Heritage Food”
Penang Char Kueh Tiaw (serves 1)
50g fresh koay teow (flat rice noodles)
5 medium-large prawns, heads removed, peeled and deveined
1 clove of garlic, crushed, peeled and chopped finely
handful of bean sprouts, rinsed and set aside.
1 chinese sausages, sausage casing removed and sliced thinnly
2-3 stalks chives, rinsed and cut into 3-4 cm lengthwise (substituted with Spring onions because my supermarket didn’t have the Chinese chives)
1 tablespoon chili boh (substituted with store bought sambal chili)
1 large Egg
2 tablespoons (I used pork lard) stir-frying
1 tablespoon light soya sauc
1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 tablespoon dark soya sauce
Dash of pepper
Croutons of deep fried pork lardons aka bak eu phok (I baked mine instead)
Water as needed
Wash blood cockles by rubbing them around submerged in water to dislodge any debris stuck on their shells. Rinse thoroughly, place the cockles in a large bowl and pour hot water over them for the shells to open. Remove each cockle from the shell with a teaspoon or toothpick and leave to soak in a bit of water. Discard shells.
Heat a wok until it begins to smoke and add cooking oil, swirling the oil around. Add sliced chinese sausages for them to saute slightly before adding the chopped garlic and stir continuously until aromatic.
Add the prawns and stir fry quickly until they develop a pinkish hue. Add the chilli boh paste and stir quickly for a few strokes to spread the chili paste and coat the prawns.
Add koay teow, followed by light soya sauce, dark soya sauce, pepper and fish sauce if using. Stir well for 30 seconds or so until the koay teow is uniformly colored and the prawns thoroughly cooked. Add 1 tbsp of water around the perimeter of the wok if the noodles become too dry. Bean sprouts can be added now if using.
Push everything in the wok to one side and add 1 tbsp of oil to the “cleared space”. Crack the egg over the oil and partially scramble with a spatula. When it is half cooked and still slightly runny, mix the egg with the other ingredients.
Add chopped chives and drained cockles and give everything a good final stir before turning off the fire.
Plate up and serve immediately with a generous sprinkling of crispy pork lard.
For my first ever attempt on Penang Char Kueh Tiaw, I thought this tasted pretty close to authentic (minus the wok hei, of course). I would perhaps use only half the lap cheong next time (not a huge fan) but more blood cockles, since they are also unbelievably cheap. Hope you will try this at home and tell me if it works for you too.