Char Kway Teow. It’s not easy to make a great one. First you’ve got to define it and imo all health conscious anything is BS. Great food should always be great taste first. CKT is one of the symbols of “unhealthy” comfort food in Singapore. It should be greasy. It should taste awesome. You shouldn’t eat it if you’ve got a heart bypass coming up.

A great CKT is first off, great charred flavor. This is extremely hard to execute at home with piss poor gas stoves with small gas burners that don’t get anywhere near hot enough. You’re more likely to end up with a dry roasted noodle than a charred noodle that’s still moist. Secondly, it should be slippery as all hell. Not like there’s sauce and all that but the noodle itself is charred yet moist and tender and slippery. Thirdly, the toppings should be generous. You should be able to get a little bit of something in each bite: Chinese sausage, bean sprouts, greens, fishcakes, cockles and noodles.

Here’s how I make mine.

First, I heat up a pan (got no wok at home) with some oil until it’s super hot and smoking. I then toss in the noodles first. This is my attempt to char. It’s hard to char if you’ve got a pan full of stuff that you don’t want charred but you’re also trying to char the noodles. So I fry each type of noodle separately then set it aside somewhere warm. Once the noodles have gotten enough heating, in goes a little more oil and then an egg. I then scramble it slightly and allow it to completely coagulate before breaking it up into little bits. This I allow to brown just slightly. Then in goes the sausages and fishcake. Then garlic which is allowed to cook a bit. Then the noodles go back in and I add a good amount of stock to soften it all up maybe 50-100ml. Then a 2 or 3 teaspoons of fish sauce. Then a good dose of sweet soy. Then a good toss up to make everything dark brown. Greens and bean sprouts go in after and softened just so. They provide all the crunch and bite so it goes in late. The last final flourish is the addition of cockles off heat plus some of the cockle blood. This gives it that special flavour. I toss the noodles until the cockles are heated through and it’s good to go.

The plate above was my first ever attempt at CKT at home, using frozen Korean cockles and Australian quality (which means suck) noodles and a pan on a home stove. It’s not the most amazing plate of CKT I’ve ever had but it’s pretty damn good. I had 4 chefs including 1 Malaysian and 1 Singaporean complimenting me so it must be worth something. If I could correct my first attempt, it would simply be the addition of more stock, which I’ve adjusted in my recipe above. This would allow the noodles to absorb more moisture and hence, get a little softer and slippery-er.

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