Char kuey teow

Char kuey teow is made with flat rice noodles, soy sauce, chilli, belacan, prawns, cockles, bean sprouts, and chives, all fried up with pork fat in a super hot wok – YUMMM!

Penang Aug 09 - 21 Extra spicy Char Kuey Teow, Lorong Selamat, by Suanie, on Flickr
Extra spicy Char Kuey Teow – image by Suanie

It is one of the iconic ‘Malaysian foods,’ as it came with Chinese migrants in the Colonial days, and picked up Malay influences like belacan (shrimp paste). It can be found pretty much anywhere in Malaysia, and is very likely to be one of the examples given by any Malaysian when talking about local food. These days there are all sorts of variations, most notably Halal sellers cooking it with vegetable oil instead of pork fat.

In most places one can ask for ingredients like prawns, egg, or cockles to be added or omitted, and also specify whether more or less chilli is preferred. And the brilliant thing is, the kuey teow vendor will remember every version that each customer has ordered, while still cooking a previous order in their giant wok. That in itself is a wonder to be experienced.

There are gourmet versions available in upmarket restaurants, but you can’t beat the authentic hawker stall version. Kuey teow is delicious, adaptable, really quick to cook (it’s the ultimate Malaysian fast-food), and is a part of our heritage and national identity. We could certainly survive without it, but I don’t think anyone who has had it would ever choose a world without kuey teow!

Inspired by today’s Daily Prompt

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