Friday, June 08, 2007

Where can you get Char Kway Teow in Seoul?

In my kitchen.

I don't think I have seen it in any restaurants in Seoul. Getting the ingredients - Dark soy sauce and sweet soy sauce and thick flat rice noodles (more than 1 cm width) can be rather tricky. But thankfully I brought the dark soy sauce from Singapore, bought some sweet soy sauce from the Foreign Food Mart in Itaewon and found the thick rice noodles from Lotte Mart. Another important ingredient I almost forget to mention is the Chinese sweet preserved sausage, Lap Chiong. I got mine in vacuum packed from Bee Cheng Hiang which specialises in delicious Ba Gua(bbq pork slices).

Typical Char Kway Teow in Singapore also comes with scrambled egg, bean sprouts, cockles, lard and sambal chilli. It is usually very greasy. Usually it is served with fresh lime halves and sometimes on a banana leaf.

I'm not a big fan of cockles and lard. I hate greasy food. So my recipe is written in my own style which is non greasy and healthy. You can add seafood and chives to this dish if you like.

Homemade Char Kway Teow ( Singapore Famous Fried Rice Noodles )

Ingredients for 2-3 servings, you'll need:
200g of Rice Flat Noodle Stick, usually comes in a dried form
2 garlic cloves, minced
100g of Chicken skinless thigh meat, diced
4 cups of bean sprouts, roots removed
1/2 Chinese Sausage, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon of Kecap Manis, sweet black soy sauce
2-3 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons of light soy sauce
1 tablespoon of sambal chilli
3 tablespoons of olive oil
White pepper and Salt

First cook the rice noodles in salted boiling water for 2 mins, until slightly soft. Do not overcook. Under cooking is the key of this recipe. Then drain and rinse the noodles under cold running water for 1 min. Drain the noodles and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil

Heat 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a wok under medium-high heat. Fry garlic and chicken dices for 1 min. Add sliced Chinese Sausage and stir the wok mixture for another 30 seconds. Now, add the noodles and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Stir in Kecap Mains, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce and sambal chilli and mix thoroughly. Stir in the bean sprouts and cook the noodles for another 1 min. Season with white pepper and salt.

Serve the noodles hot with fresh lime halves. Give a quick squeeze to the lime over the noodles before eating.

Taiwanese friend

When I was living in North Carolina, my Taiwanese friend, Julia, would always invite me to her place to eat and watch Chinese or Japanese drama. I miss Julia's mum's Taiwanese Cooking! One of her signature dish is San Bei Ji(San Bei Chicken). San Bei means 3 cups consisting of 1 cup each of soy sauce, sugar and wine. Another interesting dish she had made was braised pig's ear with fresh cilantro. It took me quite a while to enjoy it.

Living only 1 min drive away from her place, I always invited myself to their place. It was almost like a little Taiwan where everyone spoke Chinese and ate Taiwanese tidbits brought by Julia's mum all the way from Taipei, with the TV playing the recent Japanese drama.

I decided to make my own little Taipei at home with tonight dinner being Soy-Braised Eggplant with Steamed Rice. Soy-braised Eggplant is a Taiwanese local dish. It has both salty and sweet taste just like San Bei Ji. Well, given that my sugar tolerance is rather low, I modified the recipe to a low sugar one with a little hint of star anise.

That night when Ced came home, I went straight to the door, covered both his eyes and led him to the stove area. He sniffed and immediately guessed it was Taiwanese food. Wow, he indeed has the French nose. So sharp! I had never cooked Taiwanese food in my whole life until then. That was my first time making a shoot at Taiwanese food. I could tell my dish was a success immediately without having him taste it.

Taiwanese Stewed Eggplants

4 Asian eggplants, cut into 4 x1 cm strips
1 large onion, sliced
5 tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tbsp sugar, depends on how sweet you like it
5 tbsp Chinese rice wine
1 star anise
3 tbsp corn starch mixed with 1/3 cup of water to a smooth paste
1 cup water
1 tbsp olive oil
salt & white pepper

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a wok. Fry onion and star anise for 2 mins. Add eggplant strips and saute until brown. Stir in soy sauce, sugar, rice wine and 1 cup of water. Let it simmer for 15 mins over low heat. When the eggplants are tender, pour the corn starch mixture over the eggplant while stirring the eggplants continuously. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm with Steamed Rice.