Char Koay Kak
"Char Koay Kak" is a colloquial Penang Hokkien word. "Char" refers to the method of cooking, which is "stir-fry". "Koay" as a word by itself means "cake", and "kak" means "cube". This local Penang street food is popular with the local Chinese but not so well-known among the tourists, comparing to "char koay teow". I believe it is a bit under-rated. It is one of my favourite local street food in Penang. Char koay kak is fried using a huge wide flat pan, unlike char koay teow that is cooked on a wok. It has the smokiness of "wok hay" from the pan, aroma and fragrant from the garlic, chilli and preserved turnip. Traditionally, char koay kak is a basic, simple street food of rice cakes with the standard additions of Chinese chives (also known as garlic chives), bean sprouts and eggs, which a customer can asked to leave out the extras. There is no meat or seafood in this humble street food until recent time, where some char koay kak vendors offer seafood, like prawns, with extra cost.
In my home recipe, I will show you how to make the rice cake and then use the rice cake to make a traditional char koay kak that I've come to love so much since I was a kid in Penang. It is simple and eaten as a morning, afternoon or supper snack, and yet it is utterly delicious.
Make the rice cake
Cut the rice cake into small cubes
Prepare other ingredients to make char koay kak
Stir-fry char koay kak
How to make
Part 1 - make the rice cake
Mix 2 cups of rice flour and 1/2 cup of tapioca flour in a large bowl. Whisk to mix through evenly. Then add 1 litre of water (room temperature). Continue to whisk until batter is smooth.
Pour the batter into a saucepan and heat over low-medium heat. Stir the batter until it's smooth and thickened. Turn off the heat. Then pour into a tray that is lightly greased with some cooking oil.
Place the tray of rice batter on a steamer that is preheated with boiling water. Steam the rice batter for 30 minutes with the lid covered.
Once rice batter has turned into a rice cake, remove from the steamer and let the rice cake rest and cool down for at least 6 hours. You can prepare this a day before and keep in the fridge once it has cooled down.
Par 2 - stir fry the rice cake
Remove rice cake from its tray. Cut rice cake into small cubes. How small or large the cube size is a personal preference.
Cut a bunch of Chinese chives into smaller sections about 3-4 inches apart. Set aside.
Mince 3 cloves of garlic and set aside.
Break 2 eggs into a small bowl and add a dash of ground white pepper. Set aside.
Mix 2 tablespoons of light soy and 1 tablespoon of dark soy with a dash of ground white pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat up a frying pan on high heat. Once pan is hot, add some cooking oil. Add the rice cubes. Be careful they don't stick together. Let the rice cubes sear on one side for 30 seconds before tossing and flipping them around.
Push the rice cubes to one side. Then add the preserved turnip "chai por", minced garlic and chillies. Stir-fry until aromatic, and then mix with the rice cubes and stir-fry before adding the soy mixture. Continue to stir-fry for another 3 minutes.
Push the rice cubes to the sides again to create a well in the middle of the frying pan. Add a bit of cooking oil. Then add the 2 eggs. Lightly scramble the eggs by folding inwards and then the rice cubes. Continue to stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.
Finally add the chives and bean sprouts. Mix through and stir-fry for 1 minute. Turn the heat off and plate your first homemade char koay kak!
Rice cake ingredients
2 cups rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour (same as tapioca starch)
1 litre water
Char koay kak ingredients
1 plate of rice cake cubes
2 tablespoons of preserved turnip "chai por"
3 cloves of garlic finely minced
2 teaspoons of chilli paste
1 handful of bean sprouts
1 handful of Chinese chives cut into 3-4 inches section
2 tablespoons of light soy
1 tablespoon of dark soy
ground white pepper