Friday, May 27, 2005

You Can't Beat the Real Thing (But Hey, You Can Try)

I really like chai tow kway. Chai tow kway is, without a doubt, one of the things I can eat almost all the time. Unfortunately, I live in Chicago. There is no such thing as chai tow kway here. If I wanted fried chicken, I could eat that. If I wanted deep dish pizza, I could eat that. If I wanted chai tow kway, though, I'd be a little screwed.

One of the things about chai tow kway is, as far as I'm concerned, it's really bloody hard to make at home. Maybe one of you have a great recipe or something, but making nice chai tow kway requires, well, first of all, the cake itself - you know, that mix of radish and rice flour - I haven't seen that around anywhere in Chicago. Then there's the radishes themselves, which add flavour to the mixture. Fresh prawns are also bloody hard to find here.

So the question is, what do you do when you have a sudden, inexplicable craving for chai tow kway at 4.30 am in the morning when you're thousands of miles away from the nearest hawker centre?

The answer is, you improvise.

Ok, actually the more common answer would probably be 'suck thumb', but hey, I'm a creative guy. Seeing as to how this is my third year in Chicago, I've long since learnt that I'm probably never going to get my favourite foods from back home the way I like them, but hey, you can always make something that's sort of in the same area, right? I've found that some times, when you can't substitute directly, you just have to make something that's inspired by a local dish, but tastes nothing like it at all. I was craving laksa once, and ended up making pasta with a curry-flavoured cream sauce. Surprisingly, it actually tasted pretty good, though, to be fair, it tasted absolutely nothing like laksa.

Thus, just as I headed to bed early early this morning, I made myself a Chicago-style, chai tow kway inspired dinner.

Naturally, I had to substitute all the ingredients I couldn't find, which were numerous. I ended up using egg-soaked bread instead of the whole normal cakes you get. I know, some of you are saying that this would probably taste like shit, but you are wrong. It tasted ok. I also had some canned 'chinese radish' that I had procured in chinatown. That served pretty well in the concoction. As for the shrimp, ah, well, when there's no shrimp, I suppose chicken will have to do, right? Right. In the end, I had a plate of this nonsense, and decided to eat it.

Ultimately, it tasted pretty decent, I figure, though, to be fair, nothing like chai tow kway. It was probably closer to roti john (which I actually enjoy). I ate it with thai chilli sauce and ketchup. It might not have been hawker centre standard, but man, it sure beat MacDonald's.

Today's Blog Babe: Japanese Barbie.


Blogger Gabrielle spewed forth...

yaya me first to comment!

eee... ur chai tow kueh looks like scrambled.. everything..

come to think of it, i live here yet have not eaten chia tow kueh for like..... years!!!

my cravings are always herbal chicken or bah ku teh.

27/5/05 22:53  
Blogger Gabrielle spewed forth...

today's girl's chio! but er... i look at her and then her bday year.. she's like only 16 or 17!

wahahah so young!

27/5/05 22:57  
Blogger Postmaster-General spewed forth...

U mean the Malaysian restaurants at Chinatown dun have chai tow juay meh? Luckily DC here got Malaysian restaurant whose food is not too bad.

27/5/05 23:44  
Blogger Darth Sidious spewed forth...

Hmm.. That actually does look quite like
Fried Carrot Cake.

Open up your own restaurant.
Big Money! Big Money!

You could probably fool all the americans by claiming that you serve
'áuthentic' South-East Asian Food.

28/5/05 02:36  
Blogger Dexter Huang spewed forth...

any char kway teow for me??

28/5/05 02:47  
Anonymous kelawar spewed forth...

CTK one of my fav food. Bigfuck like CTK too?
Bigfuck big friend.
Big friend shd start big restaurant.
Big bat supply big money.

28/5/05 06:05  
Anonymous elise spewed forth...

darlin, I've had this a few times in chicago and i even have a recipe. you're going to hate me for the long post. oh well. here ya go. you can get everything nearby or in china town.
Ingredients for the cake:

500g rice flour
2 spoonful tapioca flour
8 full small rice bowl water
dried shrimp - soaked
dried mushroom - soak and shredded
Chinese sausage or shrimp- optional
Shallots - chopped and fried in oil
shredded raddish

Fry shollots in oil, add shrimp and mushroom. Season and set aside.
Mix 3 bowls of water with flour, boil the rest of water, add and mix.
Season to taste with salt, msg and sugar. Mix in the fried
ingredients, put in steamer and steam till ready, about half and
hour. Let cool and cut.

To make dark Chai Tow Kway
sweet dark soya sauce
chili paste
oil (pork)

Heat oil and fry garlic, add Chai tow kway, then eggs, sauce and chilli and it's done! All in 2 minutes just like the way the hawkers do it, I'm sure you know how. Of course you need a very strong stove.
I suggest using a non stick pan unless you've got a good wok.

Why is it that your white-girl friend knows more about this?

Now go & do your final!

28/5/05 08:21  
Blogger Ah 9 spewed forth...

humans improvise and turn creative when 'cornered' to the wall.

but i would say egg soaked bread fried is nice!

28/5/05 08:35  
Blogger fireandwater spewed forth...

nice improvisation.. i'm starting to miss roadside hawker stalls in malaysia..

28/5/05 08:38  
Blogger mangotree spewed forth...

hm... shall i say it is a good or bad choice to not eat at your place last night?
*scratch head*
i think i made the right choice... :P

28/5/05 09:35  
Blogger Green Ogre spewed forth...

That was a nice make-do. You should try to make Lor Mee. Grins.

28/5/05 11:45  
Anonymous Elia Diodati spewed forth...

I wonder if this is how 星洲炒米粉 got named, by mucking around in some overseas kitchen... :)

28/5/05 11:48  
Anonymous mickey spewed forth...

hey biotch, give me back my god damn textbook

28/5/05 12:28  
Blogger Passerby A spewed forth...

I'm almost afraid to ask you for the recipe. Anyway, good try. At least you went into the kitchen and cooked something. Anything. Come home soon for some REAL CTK!

28/5/05 12:28  
Blogger J Schnorng spewed forth...

shit I could have sworn I replied to all these comments; where did that reply go? ANYWAY:

gabrielle: is she so young? i didn't know. but then, considering people are looking at 11-year-olds now, I feel like less of a paedophile. Bak kut teh and herbal chicken are great, but man, i really like chai tow kway. Oh my, I'm salivating just thinking about it. Haiz.

postmaster g: eh, any stores would be CLOSED at 4.30 in the morning, lah. i had to make do with the big fuck's kitchen. no choice, no choice. there's a nice place called penang in chinatown, but honestly, it's not all that fantastic - it tells you what the stuff is supposed to taste like, rather than being a genuine subsitute.

darth sid: there already is one, lah. though, to be fair, i've always wanted a restaurant of my own. i'd do fusion. i'm very creative, you know.

flamekid: got. you make lah.

kelawar: i want big money. who is big bat? what?

elise: have i ever mentioned that you are awesome? because you are. you never cease to amaze me, miss. i am seriously dumbfounded.

9: yeah. to be honest, it tasted ok, and i was pretty proud of myself. it was cool.

f&w: i always miss roadside hawker stalls. they're my favourite form of food.

mango: aiyah, if you had been over, i would have made normal stuff, lah. so horrid, you.

green ogre: but i don't like lor mee.

elia: hahahahaha. that's a really fucking good point. i wonder.

28/5/05 12:30  
Blogger J Schnorng spewed forth...

mickey: bu hao yi si. i will return your textbook soon. i try to call you, though, and you have no phone. how?

diva: aiyah, i also want to go home, but then, airfare is belly ex.

28/5/05 12:45  
Blogger sunflowr spewed forth...

Haha! When I was studying in a crazy place where they don't even have chinatown and took us 2 months to find our first bottle of sesame oil, my housemates and I had frequent sudden cravings for hainan chicken rice, chai tow kway and curry with prata ..all the time! We erm also tried improvising (first attempt being the good-old chinese fried rice, just lump everything in ah!) but man, you're one level above us with your erm, roti-john-but-chaitowkway-wannabe. Haha. Come home!

28/5/05 13:02  
Anonymous mickey spewed forth...

my new number is 630-303-4915

28/5/05 19:11  
Anonymous penny spewed forth...

holy cow, Good attempt!!

29/5/05 01:50  
Blogger Al spewed forth...

funny shit!

29/5/05 02:28  
Blogger Claris spewed forth...

ur carrot cake looks nice! well, looks are deceiving.. hurhurhur

29/5/05 03:49  
Anonymous Anonymous spewed forth...

Man, what sort of chai tow kway uses shrimp? I've never seen shrimp in the ones I've eaten, unless it's hidden in the dark sauce somewhere.

29/5/05 10:15  
Blogger - spewed forth...

not bad not who can "cook" do have a certain appeal :D

29/5/05 11:05  
Blogger suspiciousbastard spewed forth...

Why is Chinatown called Chinatown if it does not even have the rice flour dough?

29/5/05 12:00  
Blogger Barffie spewed forth...

YUM YUM When you come back we go Toa Payoh eat the bestest (but unacknowledged) White Chai Tao Kuay!!!!! They don't even have black ones. It's succulent, Soft, bouncy, yet not over salty and hard. That is the chai tau kuay heaven!

29/5/05 22:45  
Anonymous Leonard spewed forth...

Hey Dude,

It sure looks like the real thing. Good job there!

When you're free, check my friend out. She's my Anna Sui Babe.



30/5/05 08:17  
Anonymous Anonymous spewed forth...


30/5/05 14:51  
Blogger J Schnorng spewed forth...

sunflowr: so sad, hor. aiyah, improvisation is key to living in a country where they don't have hawker delights. the USA is cool, but man, i lurrrve singapore's food, man.

mickey: i took down your number. i will call soon.

penny: thanks miss, but not as good as yours lah, obviously. your blog makes me feel inferior. which is cool.

al: your pic is funny shit too. old dudes are always funny.

claris: it WAS nice, lah. heh. i thought so, anyway.

anon: got shrimp lah. i like the shrimp ones. especially the white ones with shrimp. i like shrimp anywhere lah, to be honest.

blacksnow: i obviously got appeal lah. i'm mr. appeal.

sb: i think it has, lah. i'm just fucking lazy.

barffie: steady! i will go and eat chai tow kway wherever it is good. yum.

leonard: ok i go see.

anon2: nahbeh your head lah nahbeh.

31/5/05 08:59  
Anonymous Anonymous spewed forth...

write to me at 5 lorong pisang raja, bukit timah, spore and i'll give you the best kuay teow

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11/10/05 00:11  
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5/3/07 18:15  
Anonymous Anonymous spewed forth...

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10/7/07 23:51  

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