Char Koay Kak (Fried Rice Cake)

Char Koay Kak (Fried Rice Cake) also known as Chai Tau Kueh is a very popular street food on the island of Penang, Malaysia. It is normally eaten for breakfast or late supper. Housewives doing their groceries in the early morning would gather around the stall to trade gossips while waiting for their orders of Char Koay Kak. The hawker will fry batches of cubed rice cakes in a flat pan about 2½ feet in diameter. The large pan enables him to cater for “special dietary needs” by frying at different corners of the pan. Egg-free, no problems. Sometimes you can even request for extras like shrimp. The biggest batch is always the super spicy.

Ideally the rice cakes should have radishes in them but it has been simplified over time to fit the breakfast budget. This delectable dish is a treat on shoestring. While its flavors and preparation are similar to its more famous cousin, the Penang Char Koay Teow, nevertheless Char Koay Kak holds a very special place in the hearts of many Penangites. Some may remember mom coming home from the market with the much anticipated triangular newspaper bundle tied with a rafia string.

This dish is hardly found outside of Malaysia and Singapore. The only way to enjoy it here is to make it at home. This can be a rather involved process as the rice cake has to be made first. When I saw these ready made rice cakes at the Asian grocery store, I was delighted. The taro in there is minimal and the taste hardly noticeable.

I used the Korean chili paste (gochujang) as it is the closest substitute to the kind of chili paste used in Malaysia. I also added some Chinese chives for added flavor and color. Below is my rendition of the dish.

Note: In my haste to taste the dish, I forgot to take more step-by-step pictures but you get the idea. ;)

Char Koay Kak (Fried Rice Cake)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 packet taro or plain rice cake, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 large eggs
  • 8 oz (225g) bean sprouts
  • 4 oz (115g) Chinese chives, sliced into 1-inch lengths
  • 2 tbsp chopped pickled radish (chai poh), optional
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp chili paste
  • 4 tbsp canola oil
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Pour 1 tablespoon canola oil in non-stick fry pan. Add half of the cubed rice cake and pan fry till golden brown. Remove and set aside. Repeat with the other half of the cubed rice cake.
  2. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of canola oil into pan. Sauté garlic and pickled radish until lightly brown. Stir in chili paste. Add pan fried rice cubes, dark soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
  3. Push rice cubes to the side of pan with spatula. Add eggs and toss rice cubes over eggs. Stir to get rice cubes coated with egg. Add bean sprouts and Chinese chives. Stir for another two minutes or so.
  4. Remove and serve immediately.


Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 8-)

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Comments

  1. says

    Delicious delicious delicious! I love rice cake, although I’ve only ever had the flat ones. And they’re so yummy fried! They’re not bad in soup, but it’s definitely better fried. Yours look so tempting I wish I could have some!

    • Biren says

      Wow…I’ll have to chek it out when I visit NYC. I hope you can find the rice cake in an Asian grocery store near you. :)

  2. says

    This is another one of my favorite dishes that my grandma used to make. This truly is such deliciousness in your mouth. I don’t remember exactly but I think we used to dip this with red vinegar mixed with some garlic chili paste. There is only one restaurant I found here that served this and they served it with a black sauce like soy sauce but it was slightly sweet. I’ll have to ask what sauce it is next time I go. Your dish looks wonderful with those sprouts and Chinese chives.

  3. says

    Omg!!! Biren – my mouth is salivating right now. I have to rush off for a meeting and don’t have time for anything but coffee and I feel lightheaded looking at this!!! THIS is what I crave whenever I come home from a long trip overseas and this is one of the things I want to have as part of my last earthly meal. I feel sad for anyone who has never had the chance to taste this heavenly delight!!!!

    • Biren says

      Wow…that’s serious Denise! LOL! Sounds like you really like char koay kak. I can’t blame you though as it is really tasty. So good that you can just step out and buy this whenever you feel like having it.

  4. says

    Biren, this is one of my fav that I like to order at the hawker center. Besides Chai Tau Kueh, we also have mee suah kueh. Will try to make some after CNY.
    I must go and get some Chai Tau Kueh now…

    • Biren says

      Mee suah kueh? I will have to check that out the next time I visit. I love mee suah and cook it quite often over here. Good thing mee suah is easily available.

  5. says

    Looks delicious! This is my family’s (meaning entire family of siblings, nieces, nephews,etc…..LOL) favourite local treat! I love to add chili and no eggs for me, with lots of garlic and pickle radish, …. absolute yum! Gosh I can almost smell that plate of yours from here! Luckily I can satisfy the crave for this anytime over here!

    • Biren says

      Taro and daikon rice cakes are different though the method of preparation and the way it is served may be similar. Taro cakes are a little more dense while radish cakes are lighter.

  6. says

    Wow Biren – Amazing and congrats to just being able to whip it up at home! Did everyone just love it? It looks lovey, fried up with the magical seasonings – yumm! I hope you are well! – Megan

  7. DongXing says

    Hi Biren, you lucky lucky girl to be able to buy the taro cake! I was just thinking of chai tau kueh at lunch time, just before I had a look at your blog. It’s chilly again here and I am just wanting to eat some warm comfort food….instead, I have to be content with just a plain old ham sandwich!

    • Biren says

      These rice cakes are quite a find. They are so convenient and it beats having to make the rice cake myself. The family really enjoy this dish. :)

  8. says

    I do not lie Biren but these are my absolute fave – char kway teow and the ‘white’ or ‘black’ variety we would get at the hawker stalls in Malaysia and Singapore. I almost died and went to heaven when I opened your blog. THANK YOU – you’ve made me a very very happy girl :)

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  9. says

    What a wonderful dish. It really sounds delicious. It will take some looking to find the rice cake, but I sure plan to try. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  10. says

    Biren,

    The next time I’m visiting my brother in MN I am absolutely coming to your house for a meal. You make the most unique and delicious looking dishes! I really wish I could have a bowl of this right now; yum!

  11. Joe says

    I had this nearly every morning for three months while I lived in Penang. I’ve been trying to find it online for years. It was amazing! Thank you for posting this!

    • Biren says

      Hi Joe! Thanks for visiting! Now that you have found the recipe, perhaps you can try prepare on your own. :) I am using a shortcut here with store bought taro rice cake which works beautifully. Do give it a try.

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