Kwetiau goreng is Chinese stir-fried flat rice noodles. We know it as kwetiau goreng in Indonesia, but the Malaysians/Singaporeans know this as char kway teow, and of course, this dish is known as 炒粿條 for the Chinese.
This dish has so many varieties, and the vegetarian version (known as kwetiau goreng putih/白炒粿條) is the simplest possible incarnation. Once you master the vegetarian version, you can handle any varieties of kwetiau goreng!
What you will need for a simple vegetarian kwetiau goreng / fried flat rice noodles
My vegetarian version of kwetiau goreng has the following ingredients:
- flat rice noodles, choose the widest possible version
- yu choy sum, or other Chinese greens such as bok choy or gai lan
- mung bean sprouts
- chives, if you can’t find this, increase the amount of scallions used
- soy sauce
- salt, sugar, and white pepper
Fresh vs. dried flat rice noodles
Some Asian grocery stores stock fresh flat rice noodles, and if you see that, I would highly recommend choosing fresh over the dried version. But, you can successfully make kwetiau goreng even with dried flat rice noodles, just be sure to choose the widest possible versions.
- For fresh noodles, rinse with boiling water to separate the strands.
- For dried noodles, soak the noodles in cold water for about 1 hour to soften.
In both cases, you will want to drain the noodles really well before using to prevent splattering of hot oil during the stir fry process.
How to cook a proper kwetiau goreng/char kway teow
The best tool to cook a proper kwetiau goreng, or any Chinese fried rice or fried noodles dish, is a wok and on high heat. Chinese have a term called “wok hei”, which translates to the breath of the wok.
Whenever we order fried rice/fried noodles from a restaurant, my parents would judge these dishes harshly if they don’t detect the elusive wok hei and just like that, they would never step back into said restaurant.
The story is a bit different for your average home cooks since most household range simply cannot crank up the heat as crazy hot as is required to produce wok hei. But, you still want to invest in a good wok if you want to step up your fried rice/fried noodles game.
The next little trick is speed, from the moment the first ingredients enter the wok to the finished dish, it shouldn’t take any more than 3 minutes! Really, the prep work will take so much longer in comparison to the cooking time.
Always double-check that you have all the ingredients lined up and in order so you can move from one ingredient to another without losing speed.
Line up all your ingredients, from nearest to farthest:
- yu choy sum (or other Chinese greens) and salt
- flat rice noodles, mung bean sprouts, and chives
- scallions, soy sauce, sugar, and ground white pepper
Here’s the complete step-by-step:
- Heat wok until hot and smoking on high heat. (Or medium-high if the smoke might trigger your fire alarm!)
- Reduce heat to medium-high, then add oil, swirl around to coat the wok.
- Add garlic, stir 30 seconds until garlic is golden brown.
- Add yu choy sum and salt, stir 15 seconds to lightly wilt the greens.
- Add flat rice noodles, mung bean sprouts, and chives, stir 1 minute.
- Add scallions, soy sauce, sugar, and ground white pepper. Stir only to mix.
- Remove from heat and immediately transfer to plates and serve!
It only sounds complicated, but I assure you, it is quite easy in practice. Please give this recipe a try, and I am sure you will be able to produce outstanding kwetiau goreng/char kway teow in no time at all. 🙂
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