What Is Dish?: Southeast Asian Hawker Noodles

October 21, 2019

Southeast Asian cuisine is rich with noodle dishes. Each nation calls at least one their own: Vietnam has pho, Thailand has pad thai, Indonesia has mie goreng—the list goes on. There are even a few cross-overs here and there, but those debates are for another day. It’s undeniable though, that each noodle dish is unique, and is telling of its home country’s cuisine.

On this episode of What is Dish?, we tested our chef’s Southeast Asian noodle knowledge. We challenged her to make char kway teow, a stir-fried rice noodle dish from Malaysia (also popular in Singapore). The dish has Teochew origins, and its name, which is in Hokkien, translates to “stir-fried flat rice noodles.” It’s commonly found in street-food stalls and hawker centers across the Malay Peninsula.

This is our editor’s favorite Southeast Asian noodle dish. Char… kway teow.

Char kway teow has a myriad of ingredients—from two kinds of soy sauce to three different seafood (in the recipe we used at least). It’s pretty straightforward to make, allowing even home-cooks to recreate it with ease. Watch the video to see if Kimmie goes three-for-three, or if this simple noodle dish gives her her first loss in the series. (Ooh, suspense!)

Char Kway Teow

Recipe from Nyonya Cooking

  • Serves: 2 people
  • Active time: 45 mins
  • Total time: 45 mins
  • Difficulty: Easy


  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • ½ tbsp oyster sauce
  • ½ tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • ½ Chinese sausage
  • 1 tbsp chili paste
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ fish cake
  • 6 prawns
  • 180 g rice noodles
  • 1 egg
  • bean sprouts
  • Chinese chives


  1. Mix light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and pepper in a bowl.
  2. Set aside.
  3. Heat wok over high heat.
  4. Add oil into wok.
  5. Sauté slices of Chinese sausage, minced garlic, and chili paste until fragrant.
  6. Sauté prawns and fish cake, about 30 seconds.
  7. Add noodles into wok and quickly stir-fry them while adding a few spoonfuls of sauce at a time.
  8. Add an egg to the noodles.
  9. Add chopped Chinese chives and bean sprouts.
  10. Continue stir-frying noodles until vegetables are cooked.
  11. Serve hot and enjoy as is or with sambal.
Jica Simpas Jica Simpas

Jica hopes that by writing about food she'll actually learn how to cook. But for now, she'll happily just eat everything—especially cookies.

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