Category Archives: Nonya food

Penang Fried Kueh Tiao (My Style)

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This dish brings back fond childhood memories. My mum used to cook this on weekends more as a reprieve from cooking up a storm during the week, but for me, it was a heavenly treat for the tastebuds. Soul food if you know what I mean.

I learnt this from my mum, who learnt this from her mum, a true blue Peranakan (Straits Chinese) who hailed from Penang and wore the Kebaya every day and chewed betel nut during her spare time. I am proud of my partial Peranakan heritage (my dad is pure Chinese) and I hope to be able to pass on whatever tradition that still remains to my kids.

This rice noodle (kueh tiao) dish is considered peasant food as the ingredients used are cheap and easily available. There is no meat or seafood in it. An egg thrown in in the olden days was already considered luxurious. However the taste is something altogether. The wok hei (literally meaning the aroma from the wok) is key but is also something I can’t replicate 100% at home. I don’t have a large hob burner like those the hawkers use. But nonetheless, the taste doesn’t disappoint.

In order to meet the nutritional needs of my family (not to mention tiny picky tastebuds), I have added chicken slices, prawns and fishcake into this dish, just to make this a complete one dish meal. If I had it my way, I would have ditched the meats, upped the amount of minced garlic and chopped preserved turnip and added freshly pounded chilli paste to the dish.

The key to the success of this humble dish is heat control and speed. Have all your ingredients and sauces lined up within arm’s reach so that you don’t break a beat. I also cooked this in 2 batches to ensure that the flavours get through. My wok isn’t big enough. If you have a huge one (bigger than 40cm in diameter), go ahead to do this in one shot.

Ingredients
serves 4-5 pax
800g fresh kueh tiao (if using dried ones, after soaking in water, it should yield the same weight)
200g beansprouts
100g chopped preserved turnip(Chye poh, available at most asian supermarkets) you can omit this if you can’t find it
200g Chinese Chives (a key ingredient, you can substitute with spring onions but the taste will be different), chopped into 1 inch chunks
5-6 cloves of minced garlic (I like my garlic, you can reduce to 3-4 cloves if preferred)
*200g chicken breast or de-boned thigh, sliced thinly into strips marinate with light soy sauce ahead of time
*12 medium sized prawns , marinated with a little salt just before cooking
* 2 pieces of fishcake (around 100g), sliced into strips
3 medium free range eggs, beaten up
Dark soy sauce

* denotes optional items

Method
1. Heat wok up. It must be hot before you add the oil. I used extra light olive oil. Any vegetable oil will do. Pour enough to coat a thin film over the base of your wok.
2. Once heated through (not smoking), add half the garlic and half the chye poh and fry till fragrant and slightly browned.
3. Add the half the chicken and prawns if using, stirring constantly till just cooked.
4. Add half the kueh tiao and dark soy sauce. Mix well. It should coat each strand of the noodles to yield a nice brown colour, around 4 tablespoons of dark soy. Remember to stir constantly. Flame should still be medium to high.
5. Push the kueh tiao to one side of the wok. Pour half the beaten eggs into the empty side of the wok. Let it set a while longer before mixing the kueh tiao with the eggs.
6. Add half the beansprouts and Chinese chives and stir through. Turn off the heat after about 3-4 minutes. The beansprouts and chives should just about lose the raw taste but still crunchy and firm.
7. Dish out into a holding pot and repeat the same process with the remaining ingredients.

If you are using dried rice noodles, follow the instructions on the package. After draining out the water, add some cooking oil to the kueh tiao to prevent clumping.

Bon appétit!

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