A whole month ago (actually, technically more than a month ago now), Malaysia Kitchen hosted a series of events which were aimed at promoting the sheer awesomeness that is Malaysian cuisine. The campaign, Flavours of Malaysia, involved a number of events across Sydney, and I was fortunate enough to attend one of them – a cooking class hosted by the flamboyant Wanitha Tanasingam.
Usually when I go to an event which I enjoyed, I churn out a blog post pretty quick. Don’t worry, it has nothing to do with efficiency and everything to do with the fact that I can’t remember what I did last week, let alone last month. But this has been a blog post long in the making, because before I blogged about it, I wanted to… *drum roll*… make char kuay teow.
Yes. I made char kuay teow.
No, hell hasn’t frozen over. I think.
What is the big deal, you ask? Well. WELL. Without doubt, I am the crappest Malaysian person on this planet. I frizzzackingly LOVE eating Malaysian (it’s one cuisine which I always feel like eating, any day, any time of day) but basically, I can’t cook it for shit. I did churn out these ondeh ondeh once, but the miracle hasn’t reoccurred and I find myself ogling the likes of Karen’s assam laksa on a daily basis.
Ok you got me, I ogle twice daily.
So I went along to this cooking class, hoping to learn a thing or two.
Chef Wanitha is an absolute delight! Full of character and metaphors about sex (I mean, how could you not love this woman?) she took us on a journey not only about Malaysian food, but through her childhood and how she grew to love the art of creation, taught by her father, who was head chef for the Kedah Royal Family in Malaysia. Quite a pedigree.
The class was great fun – she taught us how to touch and smell and pound the living daylights out of fresh herbs, and we also learnt how to cook! And it was here that I first gained enough courage to even contemplate cooking char kuay teow at home.
So last Saturday was the day. I meticulously studied my ingredients list and headed into Chinatown to top up on what I didn’t have. I came home, laid it all out, chopped up what needed to be chopped and took a 45 minute nap. Because preparation is tiring, man!
At 7pm, I started cooking. Now, the cooking process itself it pretty fast, like 10 minutes, but here’s a word of warning (which I too shall heed next time I make char kuay teow). If you can, cook outside.
Ask your damn smoke alarm why.
There’s a reason why char kuay teow has that awesome smokey burnt taste, and that stems from the nice hot wok and what does a nice hot wok create? Smoke, y’all, smoke. I have a portable gas cooker and you better believe that next time I’m cooking on my balcony.
But aside from that, follow the recipe! It’s actually surprisingly simple, and even more surprisingly tasty. I’d experiment a little with the light / dark soy amounts to get the taste you want, but essentially, this is how you make char kuay teow. Enjoy!
|Char kuay teow (recipe from Chef Wanitha)|
|1 tablespoon oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon sambal / chilli paste (or to taste)
1 lup cheong (Chinese sausage), cut into thin diagonal slices
75 grams char siew (BBQ pork), cut into think slices
200 grams raw prawns, shelled and de-veined
35 grams fish cakes, sliced
35 grams fish balls, sliced
350 grams fresh kuay teow (I used about 500 grams, but we’re piggies)
1 1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
4 sprigs chives, cut into 2.5cm lengths
1 cup bean sprouts
1 tablespoon fried shallots
1 teaspoon sesame oil
(optional: 200 grams cockle – but don’t used the canned stuff, yuck)