Spicy Seafood Noodles (Char Kway Teow)
Char kway teow is a popular dish in Singapore and Malaysia where its name literally means "stir-fried rice cake strips". The rice cakes are flat sheets of rice dough folded into a block, which are cut into 1-cm wide strips and separated into noodles.
300g squid, cleaned
24 vongole, purged (see notes)
½ cup peanut oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small brown onion, sliced
500g fresh rice noodles
400g green prawns, peeled, deveined and halved lengthways
¼ cup oyster sauce
3 teaspoons kecap manis (see notes)
3 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons sambal oelek (see notes)
1 teaspoon belacan, toasted (see notes)
1 teaspoon castor sugar
½ teaspoon white pepper
1 cup bean sprouts, tailed
1 bunch garlic chives, cut into 3cm lengths
1 cup Thai basil leaves
1 banana leaf, wiped
Cut squid hoods down one side and open out flat. Score the inside of the flesh with angled cuts, turn the hoods around and repeat so that the cuts form a crosshatched pattern. Slice into bite-sized pieces and halve tentacles.
Place vongole in a frying pan over high heat, cover and cook for a few minutes until they open, as each one opens remove it from the pan to a bowl. When cool enough to handle remove meat from shells and set aside.
Wipe out frying pan, add 1 tablespoon of oil and place over medium heat, when hot, add egg and swirl to coat the base of the pan, cook until set, then flip over and remove from pan. Roll up pancake and slice into thin strips. Set aside.
Heat a wok over high heat until very hot. Add remaining oil and swirl to coat the surface, add garlic and onion and cook for 30 seconds. Add noodles and stir for a minute or so, until they start to colour. Add prawns and squid and stir-fry for a minute or so, until opaque. Stir in oyster sauce, kecap manis, light soy sauce, sambal oelek, belacan, sugar and pepper and bring to the boil. Add bean sprouts, garlic chives, basil, vongole and egg and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
Line a platter with banana leaf, turn noodles on to it and serve hot.
Vongole are usually sold ‘purged’ to remove sand and grit, however it’s still a good idea to place them in a large bowl of cool salted water and sea salt (30g salt per litre water) for several hours or overnight, at room temperature, to get rid of any remaining sand (if you refrigerate them they’ll close up and won’t ‘spit out’ the sand). Kecap manis, available from Asian grocers, is a sweet soy sauce popular in Malaysian and Indonesian cooking. Sambal oelek is an Asian paste of salt and chillies, a quick way to get a chilli kick into any dish, not just Asian ones; substitute 1 small red chilli finely chopped if you prefer. Belacan (also available from Asian grocery stores) is Malaysian fermented shrimp paste, also sometimes written belachan or blachan; to toast it, wrap in aluminium foil and place under a high grill for 3-5 minutes, until aromatic.
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