Smoky flat noodles with prawns & cockles

Smoky flat noodles with prawns & cockles

Char kuey teow

Street Food Asia
Alan Benson

This famous Malay dish must be cooked over extremely high heat, as getting the ‘breath of the wok’ into every part of it is very important. You really need to taste that smokiness and charred flavour that a super-hot wok imparts – without it it’s not char kuey teow, it’s just boring ‘wok-fried noodles’. If you are cooking this at home on a domestic stove, which lacks the grunty heat of the burners they use on the streets of Malaysia, I suggest you cook it in two batches so you can retain as high a heat as possible. The best version of this that I know of in Kuala Lumpur is at a stall in Imbi Market. Like all other char kuey teows, it features cockles – a defining ingredient of the dish. The guy I go to sells out early (around 11 am) and once that happens, he’s gone for the day. He’s older, he doesn’t need the money, but he cooks this dish out of pure passion. He is truly amazing.


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, diced
2 lap cheong (chinese dried sausage; see glossary), thinly sliced on the diagonal
8 large raw tiger prawns, peeled and deveined, leaving the tails intact
400g fresh flat rice noodles, at room temperature
1 egg, briefly beaten
450g cockles, cleaned and shelled
150g bean sprouts
1 bunch garlic chives, sliced into 5 cm lengths

Chilli paste

Quantity Ingredient
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 red asian shallots, sliced
10 dried red chillies, seeded and soaked in water then sliced
2 red chillies, sliced
sea salt


Quantity Ingredient
5 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
large pinch white pepper


  1. To make the chilli paste, heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the shallots and sauté for 1 minute. Add the dried and fresh chillies, season with salt and stir-fry for 3 minutes, until fragrant. Set aside.
  2. Put the sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix together well.
  3. Heat a wok a over high heat, add the vegetable oil and sauté the garlic until fragrant. Add the lap cheong and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the prawns and stir-fry for another minute. Add the noodles to the wok and stir-fry for a further minute, or until the ingredients are slightly charred.
  4. Push the noodle mixture to one side of the wok, then pour the beaten egg into the empty side and leave to cook for 30 seconds, or until just set. Toss the noodles and egg together, then add around 4 tablespoons of the sauce and 1–2 tablespoons of the chilli paste (depending on how spicy you want the dish to be).
  5. Add the cockles, bean sprouts and chives and stir-fry for a final 2 minutes, then transfer to a platter or individual dishes. Serve immediately with the remaining sauce in a bowl for dipping.
South-East Asian
Street Food
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