Posted by: coolerbecky | February 12, 2010

Breakfast, Singapore Style – Chai Tao Kway

(Bonus points if you’re eating it with toothpicks.)

Chai Tao Kway, or “Fried Carrot Cake”, bears no resemblance to the sweet cakes sold in most cafes and bakeries. The “carrot” in this “carrot cake” actually refers to the Japanese daikon or white radish1.

Chai Tao Kway is a staple at Yum Cha or Dim Sum restaurants, usually served in the form of a flat, grey rectangular cuboid. It is made from shredded radish, rice flour, msg, lard, oil and more lard. It has no pretensions of being healthy, dripping from every side and turning any napkin translucent just from its sheer fattening presence. The taste is bearable and the texture can best be described as greasy.

The Singaporean version, however, is a lot less intimidating then the original, coming in two major variants – black and white. In the white version, the cake is cut into pieces mixed with chopped preserved radish, diced garlic, spring onions and eggs. The resulting mixture is then fried until the egg forms a sort of crunchy crust on top of the cake. In the black version, sweet soy sauce is added and the mixture is dry fried, so that the egg mixes in with the cake equally. In both versions, chilli can be added for extra zing.

Served piping hot on a piece of waxed paper, the result is a lot less greasy than before and has a greatly improved texture and taste, though probably just as liable to make one’s arteries go “clang”. The soft cake contrasts with the crunchy egg crust, while the sauces used really give a usually unappetising dish much needed pep. Modern hawkers now give customers a fork to eat this with, but it’s originally eaten with toothpicks – presumably to make the dish last longer.

Cooler Becky likes her Chai Tao Kway black with the standard amount of chilli that is the hawker default.

Jeroxie of Addictive and Consuming has a (comparatively) deliciously easy to prepare recipe for Chai Tao Kway, which also includes the making of the actual “cake”2.

1Chinese being such a limiting language that any and all carrot-like objects regardless of colour or type are are called “carrots”.
2Most other recipes usually start with “take one carrot cake…”


  1. Fantastic job!!! Yum… now you are making me envious. I wanna make it again soon 🙂

    Thanks for the link back sweetie

  2. The black Chai Tao Kway with lots of chilli is my favourite. Em Yummy! Lionel

    • There is this Chinese ingredient called “Chye poh” in it as well. The best versions are those where the carrot cake are cut into smaller pieces and well stirr fried with the various ingredients.

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