The Char Koay Teow Man

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIFESTYLE - By OH TEIK THEAM

“WITH egg or with­out egg?” the Char Koay Teow Man asked me, as he wiped his hands on his apron.

“With egg,” I replied. “I don’t want any cock­les, though.” “Okay.” He placed a piece of ba­nana leaf in­side a card­board box as he started to pre­pare my take­away.

I stood near his wok to watch him fry his char koay teow. He heated the oil in the wok and put into it some chopped gar­lic cloves, a dollop of ground chilli, and a few shelled prawns. Af­ter stir-fry­ing this mix­ture for about 10 sec­onds, he added koay teow noo­dles and two tea­spoon­fuls each of thick soy sauce and light soy sauce. He fi­nally added bean sprouts and cut chives to the pip­ing hot food.

The Char Koay Teow Man then used his spat­ula to cre­ate a hole in the cen­tre of the noo­dles, where he in­tro­duced a lit­tle more oil and an egg that he cracked on the edge of the wok.

“May I make a sug­ges­tion?” I said, try­ing my best not to sound like a smart aleck.

“ Of course,” he said, with­out look­ing at me.

“I think it would be a good idea to crack the egg into a bowl first.” “Why?” “Well, if the egg is bad, it will not spoil the noo­dles and the in­gre­di­ents that are al­ready in the wok.”

Di­vid­ing an ebul­lient smile be­tween an­other cus­tomer and me, the Char Koay Teow Man said: “ To be sure, your sug­ges­tion is good, but the poul­terer who sup­plies the eggs to me as­sures me that they are fresh. Tak­ing into ac­count his as­sur­ance – and I be­lieve he is a trust­wor­thy fel­low – I don’t see any prob­lem at all if I break the egg di­rectly into the wok.”

It was a sat­is­fac­tory an­swer, and I had egg on my face! Pip­ing hot: Very hot. A smart alec(k): A cocky per­son who thinks he knows ev­ery­thing. Of course: Nat­u­rally; cer­tainly. To be sure: Ad­mit­tedly; cer­tainly.

Take into ac­count: To con­sider all the facts be­fore mak­ing a de­ci­sion or judge­ment. At all: In the least; in any way. Have egg on one’s face: To look fool­ish or be em­bar­rassed.

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