Make the chili paste: Soak the large dried chilies and dried Jinda or Bird’s Eye red chilies in a bowl filled with boiling hot water for 20-30 minutes until softened. Squeeze the water out of the chilies (reserve the chili soaking water) and roughly chop. Add to a blender jug or food processor bowl. Chop the large fresh red chili, fresh Thai Bird’s Eye red chilies (if using), Asian red shallots and add to the blender as well. Cover and pulse until a smooth paste forms. (Note: Uncover to push down the ingredients with a spoon in between as needed. Add a tablespoon or so of the chili soaking water to help the paste come along.)
Fry the chili paste: Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add the chili paste and sauté for 2-3 minutes until slightly roasted and fragrant. Transfer to a clean bowl and set aside.
Make the sauce: Whisk together the light soy sauce, kecap manis, oyster sauce, ground white pepper and white sugar in a small measuring cup (for easier pouring) or bowl until thoroughly combined and set aside.
Prepare the fresh ingredients: Chop the garlic and Chinese chives as indicated in the ‘Ingredients’ section. Place the mung bean sprouts in a fine mesh strainer and run cold water from the sink on top and rinse. Set aside to drain. Cut the fresh noodles (if using noodle sheets and not pre-cut noodles) into 1-inch wide strands. Rinse and pat-dry the shrimp. Pat-dry the fish tofu and slice diagonally into half. Halve the fried tofu puffs. Crack the egg into a small bowl and lightly beat.
For the Char Kway Teow:
Stir-fry the aromatics: Heat 3 tablespoons canola oil in a large wok over high heat. Once hot, add the chili paste (use ½ – 1 tablespoon only for a milder dish) and garlic. Stir-fry for 30 seconds until fragrant.
Add the proteins: Add the shrimp, fish tofu and fried tofu puffs. Stir-fry for 1 minute, until the shrimp start to turn pink and are almost cooked through.
Cook the egg: Push everything to the side of the wok and add the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil. Pour in the egg and allow to set for 20-30 seconds. Then break the egg up into small pieces and toss to combine with everything.
Add the noodles and sauce: Add the rice noodles and pour the sauce on top. Stir-fry until everything is evenly coated in the sauce.
Toss through veggies: Add the mung bean sprouts and Chinese chives. Stir-fry for 20-30 seconds until slightly wilted. Switch off the heat.
To Serve: Divide evenly into bowls/plates or transfer to a serving plate. Serve immediately.
Chili Paste: Traditional char kway teow is cooked with a chili paste made of blended dried chilies – chili or ‘cili boh’. You can either use a store-bought dried chili paste purchased from an Asian supermarket or make your own. If making your own and following my recipe, all the chili paste ingredients can be found in an Asian supermarket, wet market (if you’re based in Asia), or a Thai or Chinese specialty ingredients groceries shop. Note that the large dried and fresh chilies are milder than their smaller counterparts. If you’re not big on heat, leave out the small hot fresh red chilies.
Kecap Manis: This is a thick and sweet Indonesian soy sauce that can be found in Asian supermarkets or Indonesian grocery stores. Substitute with Thai sweet dark soy sauce if unavailable.
Fresh Flat Wide Rice Noodles: Look for these in the fridge section of an Asian supermarket or at a specialty noodles shop. It’s best if you can get them from a noodles store where they haven’t been refrigerated yet. They tend to dry out in the fridge and become more difficult to work with and separate. You can purchase them in the form of noodle sheets which you can cut (or gently tear) noodle strands from. Or you can buy the pre-cut version. If you can’t find them, you can try making your own fresh flat wide rice noodles at home. I don’t recommend using dried rice noodles for this recipe. They don’t have the same chewy and bouncy texture as their fresh counterpart and won’t do this dish justice.
Proteins: Char kway teow is typically made with shrimp/prawns, blood cockles, dried Chinese sausage and scrambled eggs in Malaysia. Since blood cockles and Chinese dried sausage (‘lap cheong’) be difficult to track down where you are, you can customize this dish with any protein you love (see ‘Variations’ section in post). Fish tofu is available in cubed form in packages. They are made of fish, not tofu, and have a soft tofu-like texture and appearance. Fish tofu/Asian fish cake blocks and fried tofu puffs (‘tau pok’) can be found in packages in the fridge section of Asian supermarkets.
Adjust spice level to taste. Feel free to use less chili paste (about ½ – 1 tablespoon) if you prefer a milder noodles stir-fry. You can make the chili paste a few days in advance. Store in a sealed airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.