Char Kuey Teow (炒粿條/Penang Fried Flat Noodles)
November 03rd, 2009 160 Comments

Char Kuey Teow (炒粿條/Penang Fried Flat Noodles)

Char Kuey Teow
Char Kuey Teow pictures (5 of 5)

When it comes to Penang hawker food/street food, there are a few dishes that are chart-toppers: Penang Assam Laksa, Hokkien Prawn Noodles, and Char Kuey Teow. It’s hard to decide which one is the most popular, but if you go to Penang, you won’t—and don’t want to—miss these three stellar hawker food.

Char Kuey Teow is basically flat rice noodles stir-fried with shrimp, bloody cockles, Chinese lap cheong (sausage), eggs, bean sprouts, and chives in a mix of soy sauce. A great serving of Char Kuey Teow is flavored not only with the freshest ingredients, but equally important is the elusive charred aroma from stir-frying the noodles over very high heat in a well-seasoned Chinese wok.

The mouthwatering aroma is the “wok hei” or breath of wok. If you’ve been to Penang and walk on streets where there are Char Kuey Teow hawkers, you’ll know what I mean. A great Char Kuey Teow beckons you from blocks away; the tempting aroma fills the air and lure diners in from afar. The very thought of that smell is enough to set my stomach rumbling.

While Char Kuey Teow can be found throughout Malaysia, the Penang version reigns supreme. I’ve heard many stories about tourists from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, and beyond who trek religiously to Penang for a satisfying meal of the dish. Somehow, Char Kuey Teow from outside of Penang is simply an inferior shadow of the real stuff—lack of wok hei, too dark in color, and/or wrong taste and texture. And that’s the very reason why Malaysians from out-of-state would go to Penang—just to have a plate of Char Kuey Teow.

Char Kuey Teow

Char Kuey Teow is one the most requested recipes on Rasa Malaysia. I have readers who’ve been begging me to post my Char Kuey Teow recipe since three years ago. Great things, especially a perfect recipe, is worth waiting for. Of course I’ve made Char Kuey Teow many times, but I wanted to share the ultimate Char Kuey Teow recipe, and this is it.

So, what are my secrets?

  1. Get the freshest ingredients—fresh and crunchy bean sprouts, freshly-made noodles, big, fat, succulent shrimp/prawn, bloody cockles (I love my Char Kuey Teow with them, without them, it’s not quite the same!), etc.
  2. Wonder why the prawn in Penang Char Kuey Teow are always so succulent, juicy, and sweet? I believe some of the most famous stalls treat their prawn with sugar and ice water, or perhaps they are just very fresh.
  3. Use lard if you can. That’s the secret for the rich silky taste.
  4. Very hot wok.
  5. Control your timing of cooking and hence control your “wok hei.”

Without further ado, here is my secret Char Kuey Teow recipe and a detailed step-by-step picture guide that everyone is waiting for. Char Kuey Teow is seriously scrumptious and I don’t see why it can’t be as popular and well-known as Pad Thai and the likes on the global stage. I strongly believe that one day, the world will discover the delicacy that is Penang’s Char Kuey Teow.

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160 comments... read them below or add one

  1. John says:

    Thanks so much! I have my recipe down pretty well, and closely resembles yours. My biggest problem is: getting my noodles softened, separated, and dry – all at the same time. If i quickly immerse them in water, it helps to soften and separate them, but gets them wet, and as they dry, they tend to clump back together. If I add them before they’re dry, they cook clumpy. But, if I DON’T soften/separate in water, they start off clumpy. Any tips? How do you prep your noodles to get them soft and separated?

  2. Azleena says:

    Thank you!

  3. David says:

    yum yum yum! Hi Bee!
    Did I ever tell you that I love noodles? Well I love noodles, and i love the step by step instructions. For once, I finally have all of these needed ingredients, cheers!

  4. hg says:

    IMHO, lard is the most important ingredient in CKT. It’s just not the same without it.

  5. Divina says:

    That is jut gorgeous. They are so fragrant and delicious. Now, I can make this at home perfectly.

  6. Wow Bee…that looks pretty darn close to the real deal. I bet it taste just as good…sigh, woman you have cravin’ for a Penang Char Kuey Teow…with extra si ham, pls!

  7. Ninette says:

    Now you’re talkin! This looks AWESOME!

  8. Thanks for the recipe and step by step instructions on how to fried the flat noodles :)

  9. CT says:

    You made this? It looks really delicious.

  10. Khatiya says:

    WOW! Thank you very much for sharing the detailed step-by-step images. I’ve never had Char Kuey Teow Penang style before.

    I am Cambodian and we have our own version of Char Kuey Teow which is pronounced the same as yours. In Cambodian Char means to stir-fry and Kuey Teow means noodles. What a coincidence.

    Here is how we make Char Kuey Teow the Cambodian way.

    • Thanks for sharing the link. It looks very different. Well, Char Kuey Teow is basically a Chinese dialect, as Cambodia has many Chinese descent, so I am not surprised it’s called the same.

  11. sinlesschocolate says:

    alamak! so divine la…..

  12. jo says:

    Bee, this looks as good as the best I have seen in either Malaysia or Singapore. Your pics are really making me drool now .. and it’s lunch time now! Love CKT with lots, and lots of lap cheung.

  13. joey says:

    I actually like char kuey better than pad thai :) To think I haven’t even tasted an authentic one from Penang! Thanks for sharing your recipe :)

    • Joey – me too. I love Thai food but I find Thai food to be mostly sweet, including Pad Thai. I don’t really like my noodles loaded with sugar. You have to go to Penang to try the authentic Char Kuey Teow.

  14. zenchef says:

    You kick butt Bee. This looks awesome! The step by step is so helpful because it’s the kind of dish that requires proper technique. I certainly have no reason the mess it up now!
    The combo of chinese sausage, shrimp and cockles makes me want to jump in my screen right now. Your kitchen is on the other side.. right? :)

  15. tigerfish says:

    Nice…I usually go without hum (cos worried of contamination) though I like it and agree with you that without ham hum, CKT can turn out quite different.

  16. Caroline says:

    Yummy! I love Char Kuey Teow. Can’t live without it. Thanks loads for your recipe. Will be trying it out sometime soon. =) Was wondering, can you feature some articles on Hainanese food? I am a Hainanese but have no idea about Hainanese food except for the famous Hainanese Chicken Rice.

  17. Maya says:

    I think I will head to my usual makan place tonight for a plate :)

  18. ash says:

    Hi! Tks for sharing this! :) Can I check why shd the prawns be soaked in sugar and ice water? Is tt to make them crunchy?

  19. ramlah says:

    Thanks. This is one of my favourite dish. Will try it out. n dazzle my kids. Am not good at cooking. Usually I will go to Kelana Jaya near the FAM. There is one fat lady at the coffee shop who really cooks FANTASTIC kway teow

  20. J2Kfm says:

    among all of Penang’s best street fares, i like CKT the most. the hokkien mee, laksa, and lor bak come distant seconds.
    can one really replicate the intensely aromatic ‘wok hei’ at home?

  21. Nina says:

    The CKT looks superlicious….simply irresistibly good. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Great pictures too :))

  22. Chee says:

    Thanks for this recipe! Ive been searching high and low for the perfect one and this looks perfect from your picture!

  23. Manggy says:

    The ultimate version. I love it. And, I can trust your tastes! Looks absolutely fantastic and it’s making me hungry at midnight…

  24. this looks absolutely wonderful and delicious. thanks for the recipe and i’m going to try and make it.

  25. Shoshanna says:

    Hi Bee, where can I buy cockles?

  26. kimberly says:

    Hi there! thanks for your great recipes!! this is so tempting i’d have to try it real soon!

    As there are different names for same ingredients, i would like to confirm if small shallots is this? and that the chinese chives is 韭菜 in Chinese Jiaozi?

    thank you!

  27. Judy says:

    I’ve made this several times, but I just can’t separate the fresh rice noodles! The ones I get are usually oiled & folded over each other. But, I just get little shards of them, broken, when I try to separate! WHAT is the SECRET???

  28. KLkia says:

    Your CKT looks really authentic and I am sure tastes yummy too. We cannot find cockles in NZ, so will have to find a substitute to try it out. Your step by step approach is definitely idiot-proof and very comprehensive. Thank you so much for sharing.

  29. Su-yin says:

    This looks amazing! I’ve been waiting for your CKT recipe, hehe. :) Love how your blog enables me to eat all the food I miss (and how every single recipe I’ve tried works)! I never eat the “ham” in CKT though, have never warmed to eat. The lap cheong on the other hand is another story…. :P

    Thanks for this!

  30. joyce says:

    i’m gonna try this recipe tonite i know this dishes is really good… thank you for sharing your knowledge to everyone hopefully you get cooking show in foodnetwork …hope somebody sponsor you…i’m gonna be # 1 big fan of your t.v show….more power…god bless you…


  31. kl_changs says:

    Hor liau, Bee!! Very, very lau nuar already. Hehehe

    Have tried the version from the Penang Street Food book. Will try your uber-delicious looking CKT next :P

    Did you use frozen cockles?

  32. This looks amazing! You are inspiring me in so many ways.

  33. You know here in PJ/KL they hardly ever add lap cheung. Yes…I agree Penang’s CKT the best! The prawns there are huge in comparison to the ones in the Klang Valley!

  34. Pei-Lin says:


    Thanks! Thanks! Thanks for sharing THE secrets to good Penang Char Kway Teow!! This post reminds me of my failed attempt at CKT while I was still a student abroad in the U.S. Though back in Malaysia now. I’d still love to give it a shot sometime!!

    I absolutely love your blog! Inilah Semangat Malaysia!! Keep it up the wonderful work!! =)

  35. PT says:

    How did you manage to get some cockles in the state? It’s one of the things that I missed most from home! :) Thanks for sharing a great recipe!

  36. Kim says:

    Hey, great stuff! Thanks for sharing the recipe, i am a malaysian living in France with constant craving for my kampung food of Penang… I made this dish tonight with your recipe, we all overate! heheh

  37. Looks great!!.. however I am not a big fan of cockles so usually go without them.

  38. Judy says:

    they are just a variety of clam, aren’t they? couldn’t small clams be substituted?

  39. Caroline says:

    Was wondering – where did you buy your fresh kway teow? My cousin lives in Canada and always complain that they can’t find them there.

  40. peanutts says:

    Yummmmmmmmmm! I love char quey teow!!!. Cant wait to try this at home.

  41. Ethelbert says:

    I so LOVE char kuey teow!!! I miss it sooo much! It’s my fave dish. I have tried cooking it few times and each time – disaster, majorly disappointing. I might give this a try, seeing as it’s step by step I should be ok..*fingers crossed*. Thanks for posting this…

  42. mvnw says:

    I wanted to have a nice char kuey teow since I left Penang almost 2 years ago and I can’t really get one that taste as good as the original Penang Char Kuey Teow from any restaurants and food places in Adelaide. They are all too oily, and I mean really, really too oily, and taste either too salty or burnt, or combination of both. Yuck! Never able to finish even one portion of it. Such a disappointment all the time. But, your post of this char kuey teow doesn’t take that much oil. Even though I am a bit reluctant to cook this dish by myself (because I think they are too much work and I am too lazy, hehehe) I might try to make this dish in the future (when the cooking mood strikes). And I’m sure your recipe tastes yummy… Thanks for sharing :)

  43. I’m arriving in Penang tomorrow and this post has seriously ramped up my excitement! I can’t wait to get stuck in to the street food, any advice regarding best areas etc would be greatly appreciated!

  44. Your CKT looks GREAT! Full of wok hei! It makes me craving for one now….!

  45. Bren says:

    Girl, if I ate shrimp (and I used to), I’d be all over this. My parents would love this. Maybe I’ll try it for them. looks amazingly refreshing, light and healthy!

  46. minote says:

    Hi! I tried your recipe last night for our dinner. My question is what kind of dry red chilli pepper did you use. I used the one that made in Mexico and I didn’t even use all 1 oz. of it for 2 people since it was already hot. I might be using different kind of dry red chilli pepper than what your recipe called for. And I can’t make it into paste but the CKT or my version of it at least tasted so darn good!


    • The 1 oz of dried red chili is not for 2 people, if you look at my instructions, I said add 1/2 tablespoon of the chili paste. The chili paste recipe will yield about 4-5 servings of the CKT.

  47. Kent says:

    CKT is my favorite dish when travelling to M’sia / Penang. ! When you refer to the dark soya sauce, is it the thin one (like a regular liquid), or is it thick like kecap manis?

  48. hazza says:

    Love this dish! But I gotta ask where you got the see hum from .. were you cooking this in Malaysia? I did not think this was available in the west.

  49. remy says:

    hahahaaaa my mother want recipe of char kuey tiow mmmmm she very happy coz i help her to find recipe.she said this recipe very goooooooooooooood… thank. are u have myspace?mmmmm if u have can u approve me pleaseeeeeeeeeeee

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