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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Zuiko and Char Kuay Teow


Malaysia, the melting pot of cuisine.

For hundreds of years the region has seen many fusion of cooking from the many traders that landed port in Malacca, Penang and Singapore. The root and leafy fragrant spices of the Malays archipelago, the elegance of Chinese cuisine and the wholesome seed spices of India fuse together to bring out the best in taste and aroma!

The typical Malaysian food that range from Nasi Lemak, Char Kuay Teow, various types of Laksa, Satay and many more fusion foods have made this country a haven for gastronomic aficianados. For me, I am not that really affectionate about the best food , but I appreciate the comfort of having great delicious food when it matters. Be it alone or with friends & family, food is the common bond between the many races in this country.

50mm, f/8, 1/100s, ISO1250

One of my all-time favorite foods to cook is the Char Kuay Teow. I have learnt to cook this comforting delicacy from my mother, later refined by observing the many hawkers' techniques to get the best recipe to suit my taste.

50mm, f/8, 1/8s, ISO2000

I usually cook it on Sunday mornings, just after getting the freshest of ingredients from the weekly Pasar Tani (Farmer's Market in literal translation). The basic ingredients are three servings of kuay teow (I like to get the finer noodles about 1cm thick), one medium onions, four pieces of garlic, six pieces of dried chili, a dozen prawns, two eggs, a couple of fish cake sticks, a handful of chives and two dollops of kicap pekat (thick soy sauce). Traditionally, the cockle is used instead of fish cakes. Somehow, I don't have the liking of cockles; thus, the change in recipe.

*Interestingly, the word Ketchup has its roots from the kicap.

Clean and de-vein the prawns and save the shells to make the stock. Blend the onions, garlic and chili; however, the dried chili needs to be boiled first. Sauté the paste in the wok with high heat until the aromatics of the blend permeates, and crack in the eggs. Stir roughly until the eggs harden, and pour in the prawn stock. Let it simmer then put in the kicap and the kuay teow along with the slivers of fish cakes and chops of chives. The secret in cooking this delicacy is by maintaining the high heat throughout and keeping the wok clean always. The molasses property of the kicap will cover the base of the wok, and having a sturdy metal spatula is very important to scrape it clean. Keep stirring and folding the kuay teow until there's some charred burning on the prawn, fish cake and the kuay teow. Finally, put two pinchfuls of salt for seasoning.

50mm, f/8, 1/125s, ISO2000

Whilst my adult Malay taste bud craves for a much spicier recipe, I have kids in mind. They wouldn't be ready to savor the typical Malay hot & spicy liking until they are much older. For now, I just put less chili and more kicap. My daughter definitely loves to eat this dish, sometimes she often reminds me to cook it. It's just a simple hawker's dish, which is definitely comforting.

Another tip, eat it immediately as it tastes the best piping hot!!


wjl (Wolfgang Lonien) said...

Thanks for the recipe - and my wife asked which brand of kicap that is

Thru-the-Zuiko said...

Brand? The one I use is actually quite hard to find. Its a special kicap just for cooking noodles. It's Kicap Mee made by Tamin. Very thick and salty.


Thru-the-Zuiko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wjl (Wolfgang Lonien) said...

Terima kasih Mohamad - we'll have a look at the local Asian stores for this...