This vegan Char Kuey Teow is made from homemade flat rice noodles and simply tossed in sauce and crunchy vegetables for an aromatic and tasty meal. Give this recipe a try for an easy lunch or dinner.
What is Char Kuey Teow
Char Kuey Teow in Hokkien translates to stir-fried flat rice noodles. This dish is popular in many Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia and Singapore and it’s one of the most indulgent dish for locals and tourists alike.
What makes Char Kuey Teow so special? It’s all in the char or ‘wok hei’ which means smoky aroma in Cantonese. It starts off with a very high heat wok, then a swirl of oil, followed by a loud satisfying sizzle when you add the ingredients in and toss it together with simple seasoning and crunchy veggies for a flavorful meal.
Traditionally, this popular dish is made with flat rice noodles, shrimp, eggs, cockles, bean sprouts, chives, and Chinese Sausage. These days, it can be made in various ways whether it be vegetarian or thinner rice noodles to give it a softer texture. Char Kuey Teow also shares similar characteristics with Thai Pad See Ew.
Back when I was in high school, I always look forward to Sunday because my aunt would let me cook my own plate of Char Kuey Teow in her mom-and-pop stall. It’s like a real-life cooking play date with my cousins. Fast forward to this day, I still love to play cooking in real life! So, let’s see how easy this dish is made using homemade rice noodles.
Easy Char Kuey Teow steps
I used a non-stick pan in this recipe but if you have a wok, that will be the best option. Fresh rice noodles are one of the best choices but if you can’t find any, dried flat rice noodles are another option.
Step 1: Prepare the homemade rice noodles or use fresh ones from the store. To prepare this dish using dried noodles, soak them in cold water until soft or when the noodles turn from translucent to white, then drain. For fresh and store-bought, cut into the desired width. See below on how to handle store-bought fresh rice noodles.
Step 2: Make the sauce by mixing dark soy sauce, soy sauce, and a tad bit of sugar in a bowl, and whisk to combine. I also use sambal oelek for the spice and saltiness. So, if you are using other chili sauce or fresh chili, adjust the salt accordingly.
Step 3: Heat up a non-stick pan, then add in the oil. Sauté garlic until aromatic and add in the pan-fried tofu or protein of choice. Season with chili sauce.
Step 4: Add in the noodles, sauce, and toss all the ingredients until well-combined. Let the noodles cook a little to allow it to absorb all the sauces to give it a charred look.
Step 5: Finally, toss noodles with mung bean sprouts and Chinese chives and cook for another minute or so. Here, you can season the vegetables according to your personal preference or leave it as-is if your chili sauce is salty enough. Note: You can add in the veggies in step 3 before the noodles if you prefer more fully cooked vegetables or if you are using leafy greens.
How to handle store-bought fresh rice noodles
If you are close to a grocery store that sells fresh rice noodles, then you are in luck. In my experience, unless I’m there, the moment the store loads the freshly arrived noodles, the loosening of the noodles will be quick and easy.
Most of the time, I get a day old noodles which are normally quite brittle. So, to loosen the noodles, place them in a microwave-safe plate, and cover it with a damp paper towel. It will turn soft and will be easier to handle. I personally like to detach the noodles into strands for better sauce absorption.
Char Kuey Teow variations
Back at home, there are few variations to this dish, some mix Kuey Teow with yellow noodles (Kuey Teow Miin) or Kuey Teow with rice vermicelli (Kuey Teow MaiFun). I personally prefer the former mix. Based on my personal experience, the Northern version, Penang Char Kuey Teow, is normally lighter in color compared to the South’s but both are super tasty and full of ‘wok hei’. If you have a chance to visit Malaysia, do let me know which one you prefer.
This Vegan Char Kuey Teow is
- Super simple to make using homemade rice noodles
- Easily customizable; use gluten-free sauces for a gluten-free option
If you try this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback and see your beautiful re-creation. Leave me a comment, rate it, and tag @woon.heng and #woonheng to your photos on Instagram or Facebook. Happy cooking, friends!
Char Kuey Teow ‘炒粿条’
- 2 servings of fresh flat rice noodles [about 420g]
- 5 oz [130g] firm tofu pressed, cut into desired size
- 1 cup mung bean sprouts
- ½ cup chopped Chinese chives
- 3 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1½ tablespoons sambal oelek or other chili sauce
- oil for cooking
- salt to taste
- Cut tofu into your desired shapes, then simply pan fry them in an oiled non-stick pan until golden brown on all sides. Transfer to a bowl.
- Mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl until well-combined and set aside until ready to use.
- In a heated non-stick pan with 1 tablespoon of oil, sauté garlic until aromatic, then add the sambal oelek and tofu and give it a quick stir.
- Add in the noodles and sauce, then toss all ingredients until well-combined. Cook for another 30 seconds or so to allow the noodles to absorb all the sauces.
- Finally, add in the veggies and toss again until the veggies are fully cooked through. Taste test and season accordingly.
- Serve warm with a side of chili.