For Singapore’s 55th National Day, let us warm the cockles of your hearts with a beloved local dish- Char Kway Teow with Cockles!
The first half of 2020 has been a rough ride for Singapore. However, our nation has pulled through the crisis and we are thankful that we can still have a big celebration for all that we have accomplished. And what better way is there to have a safe celebration than with some good home cooked food?
Out of the long list of must-try foods Singapore boasts of, char kway teow is one of the top 10. Slippery kway teow fried with Chinese sausage, juicy cockles or hum, and flavoured with savoury-sweet kecap manis, this dish is perfect for National Day!
As an island country, we absolutely love our cockles. They can be found as a key ingredient in some of our hawker dishes like laksa and char kway teow.
In fact, cockles/hum are a fond part of our popular culture and memes after being mentioned by a few prominent Singaporean icons!
So, while our hearts are full of excitement for Singapore’s upcoming 55th birthday, here is how you can warm your stomachs with a plate of delicious Char Kway Teow with cockles!
You will need: kway teow noodles, yellow noodles, fish cake, lup cheong or Chinese sausage, bean sprouts, koo chye or Chinese chives, fried lard, garlic, eggs, fish sauce, kecap manis or dark sweet sauce, dark soy sauce, sambal, cooking oil, lime, and fresh cockles.
Step 1: Prepare the fresh cockles
Before you cook the cockles, you will have to clean them thoroughly. Shellfish tends to have lots of sand and dirt trapped in them, so it is important not to skip this step.
Place the cockles in a bowl and cover them with water. Add some salt, stir to dissolve then let them soak for 30 minutes or longer. You can put the bowl in the fridge to keep the cockles fresh.
After 30 minutes, you should see that the water had become dirty.
Drain the water away and add more clean water to submerge the cockles. Let them soak for another 10 minutes or more.
Repeat this step until the water remains clear.
Now, you can extract the meat from the shells.
Hold the cockles, opening facing up, and use your fingers to pull the shells apart. The shells should come apart easily. You can also use a cockle shell opener if you have one.
Use a spoon to scrape the meat off the shells into a clean bowl and discard the shells.
Repeat this until you have finished all the cockles. Set the meats aside.
Step 2: Fry the char kway teow.
Our cooking method is as the hawkers’- all in one wok. This is the best way to get that delicious wok hey or smoky char flavour that signifies a great plate of char kway teow.
However, if you are not confident with frying all the ingredients at one go, you can fry the ingredients separately then put them all together in the end.
Start with heating up the cooking oil, lard, and garlic in the pan and stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Make sure they are fragrant but not browned.
Add the yellow noodles and stir fry for 2 minutes before adding the kway teow and fish sauce. Stir fry until the fish sauce has absorbed, then add the sambal and stir fry for another 2 minutes.
Tip: Make sure to loosen up the noodles before stir frying by gently heating them in the microwave or with some warm water.
For the eggs, you will want to cook them first before mixing them with the noodles. This will prevent the noodles from getting too wet.
Push the noodles to one side of the pan and add a little more oil if needed, then add the eggs. Scramble them until ¾ cooked before mixing them with the noodles.
Now, we can add the other ingredients. Add the fish cake and lup cheong and cook for 1-2 minutes or until warm.
Add the bean sprouts and Chinese chives and stir fry for another 2 minutes. You can add a little water at this point to help the vegetables cook faster.
Tip: while stir frying, be careful not to stir too much as the kway teow noodles break easily.
Once the ingredients are cooked, we can add the kecap manis and dark soy sauce for that beautiful dark colour and savoury sweet flavour.
Stir fry to coat the ingredients well with the sauces and let it cook for a few minutes to get the wok hey.
Lastly, add the cockles!
A common complaint about buying char kway teow from outside is that there is not enough cockles in them. Well, since you are making your own, feel free to add as many cockles as you desire!
Stir fry for 2-3 minutes and your char kway teow is ready!
Serve it hot with a small lime on the side. If you have some banana leaves at home, they add a true hawker aesthetic for your home cooked meal too!
We love how this recipe is simple and taste super authentic, complete with the charred taste of wok hey and loads of cockles. You can prepare a huge batch and have a wonderful dinner with your family and friends without stepping outdoors!
Wishing all a Happy National Day and full and warmed hearts!
Get the recipe here!