Next to kai si hor fun, wat tan hor must be the most popular noodle dish in Ipoh. I’ve never received so many responses to my Instastories until I posted a picture of the wat tan hor I made last Friday! A rich eggy sauce poured over wok-charred rice noodles loaded with vegetables and seafood … mmm, what’s not to love?!
This popular restaurant dish is one you can easily recreate at home. There are basically two components to wat tan hor
1) preparing the noodles
2) preparing the gravy to pour over the noodles
What I love most about the dish is that it uses mostly pantry staples that are found in any Malaysian kitchen. You can always amp it up by throwing in your favourite add-ons like abalone, squid, pork lard etc.
Personally, I like to keep mine simple with only ginger, garlic, prawns, chicken, spring onions, and choy sum. It’s still delicious – I never saw my hubby eat anything so fast in his life, haha!
The only potentially elusive ingredient is the noodles. You must use the type of kuay teow designated for frying. Whether it’s for “soup kuay teow” or “frying kuay teow” is always stated on the packet. The soup one is softer and more delicate, so it will not be able to withstand vigorous frying. I get my supply of noodles from De Market, a small but compact supermarket in Taman Desa, Kuala Lumpur.
Next to the noodles, the most important thing in good wat tan hor is to use good quality chicken stock
The best way to make chicken stock is by using chicken wings.
I first saw this technique being used by Marion Grasby. I have to admit, I was surprised, because all this while I thought the only way was to use chicken carcasses (which I hate because of the gunk). Then as I did more research, I found out that using chicken wings to make stock is an open secret in the industry.
Why are chicken wings your best bet for quality rich stocks? They are packed with connective tissue (cartilage), plenty of bones and a high amount of fat. When boiled, the cartilage releases collagen, which turns into gelatin and that gelatin gives the broth body. The bones and the fat add loads of flavor to the broth. Working with chicken wings is also less messy, as you don’t have to deal with the blood and gunk from whole carcasses. If you’re thinking, ehhh what a waste of good chicken wings …well, I only use the wingtips for stock, and save the drummets for cooking other dishes.
How to make stock from chicken wings
Rub the wings with a little bit of oil and salt. Place in a baking tray and roast in oven for 45min-1 hour until the skins have browned. Remove from oven and pour hot water into the tray to deglaze the pan (i.e. release the flavourful browned bits stuck to the bottom known as “fond”). When cool enough to handle, dump the pan’s contents (wings, deglazing liquid, etc) into a pot, add a few cups of water and let it simmer for another one hour or so over low heat to extract the stock. (You can also fry the wings instead of roasting them but I prefer the latter as it doesn’t smoke up my kitchen)
Now, on to the recipe for wat tan hor.
Wat Tan Hor
- 300 g kuay teow for frying
- 3 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 tbsp light soya sauce
- 1 tsp dark soya sauce (See Recipe Notes 1)
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 5 slices ginger
- 6 prawns, deshelled
- 3-4 fish cakes, sliced thinly
- 50 g chicken meat
- 400 ml chicken stock
- 3-4 stalks choy sum, cut into 2-inch sticks
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp cornstarch, dissolved into 1/4cup water
- 1 stalk spring onion, cut into 2-inch sticks
- 1 egg, beaten
- Salt and pepper to taste
- A few drops sesame oil
- Heat up wok and add 1-2 tbsp oil. Swirl wok to cover as much surface area as possible. Add the kuay teow, followed by light and dark soya sauces. Toss to mix sauces and noodles, letting the noodles rest occasionally so that they can acquire a slight char (wok hei). Divide into two serving plates. (Recipe notes 2)
- Into the same wok, add remaining oil. Saute garlic and ginger until fragrant. Add meat – prawns, fish cakes and chicken meat – and stirfry until they start to brown at the edges.
- Add chicken stock, choy sum and oyster sauce. Cook for 10 minutes or so to let the flavours fully develop.
- Add cornstarch solution and spring onions.
- Turn off fire and add beaten egg. Stir through so that the egg forms nice strands. (See Recipe Notes 3)
- Finally, season with salt, white pepper and sesame oil. Pour gravy over the noodles that you earlier divided into two serving plates. Ready to eat!
- The main intention of adding dark soya sauce is to add colour to the dish. You can increase or decrease the amount, depending on your personal preference.
- Don't worry about the noodles sticking to the surface of the wok. The kuay teow comes coated with a thin layer of oil already. The addition of soya sauces also acts as a lubricant to prevent sticking.
- To make a silky gravy, the step of turning off the fire is VERY important to prevent your egg from being overcooked i.e. scrambled.
Want more simple Malaysian noodle dishes? Try my sang har meen!