There's so much going on for this humble dish. Nutritious, filling, tasty and absolutely satisfying. It's a dish that has many versions, Black and Sweet, White with just a little egg, White with a greater egg to radish ratio. And as always, with any dish that one grows up with, we all have our one favourite version. Me? I like mine with 2/3 radish and 1/3 egg. PLUS, the egg must be like a Thai Omelette style egg, very crisp, golden brown and extremely flavourful. I sometimes catch myself having to hold myself back at the Chai Tow Kuay stall - "er... Uncle.... can you make mine with less chilli, more starchy radish, more chai poh, less egg but then ah.... can you make the egg very crispy on the side and brown brown? Please?" I have to hold back because I've done it before and each and every time, getting a cold hard stare back from the Chai Tow Kuay Uncle and a slight shaking of his head. So, enter the homemade version. Done EXACTLY the way you want it. More Chai Poh? No problem! More radish? No problem! Egg brown brown? Well you get the picture. And with that said, I shall now delve into how one achieves this particular version, aptly titled - My Fav Chai Tow Kuay.
For convenience, I usually turn to a store bought version of the radish cake. The key to the success of this version, is...Oil. And lots of it. But keep it mind that it is absolutely CRUCIAL that you add the oil only at a particular stage in the frying of your Chai Tow Kuay. Yes, there is a science to this. Follow these instructions to the tee and you'll be guaranteed of the best damn Chai Tow Kuay you've ever eaten.
Step 1: Soak your preserved Turnip aka Chai Poh. This removes part of the saltiness. The Chai Poh should always enhance the taste, not overwhelm it. You can change the water a few times. Drain and squeeze dry.
Step 2: Fry the Chai Poh in a dry pan till the water evaporates. Add a little oil to cover the turnip and chopped garlic. Fry till darker brown and fragrant. Could take quite a few minutes.
Add the Radish Cake. Chop up with spatula to bite size pieces. How large or how small? Your choice. Some like this starchy part in huge chunks, a slab even. some like it in little itsy bits. Personally I like them chunky. Fry the radish till the sides are just a little brown.
Step 4: Press radish Cake down flat in the pan.
Step 5: Turn up the heat to high. When pan is very hot, add oil. This is the point where the vast amount of oil should be added. Not too much that the radish is swimming in it, but enough to ensure that there is a ring of oil around each piece of radish cake. Let oil heat up.
When oil is hot, pour in beaten and seasoned eggs. The number of eggs is up to you. Tilt pan in a circular motion to evenly spread out the egg around the pan.
Step 7: Flip. ONLY flip ONCE. Keep an eye on the eggs browning. Plate
Step 8: Bon Apetit!