This Cambodian mee katang recipe makes a delicious Chinese-Cambodian dish of wok-fried wide rice noodles, browned by dark soy sauce, and stir-fried with marinated pork, crunchy carrots and Chinese broccoli, and scrambled eggs. Called ‘mee Kontang’ in Khmer, which means Cantonese noodles, but pronounced ‘mee Katang’, these charred noodles are a cinch to make and super versatile.
Our Cambodian mee Katang recipe makes a tasty Cambodian-Chinese stir-fry dish called Cantonese noodles in Khmer. While not as ubiquitous in Cambodia as noodle soup dishes such as nom banh chok and kuy teav, nor as popular as wok-fried noodles such as lort cha, mee Kola, chha kuy teav (stir-fried rice noodles), or mee Siem (crispy deep-fried noodles with pork and fermented soy bean), you will still spot mee Katang at street food carts and on restaurant menus.
A descendant of the Cantonese dish chow fun, mee Katang is made with the same fresh, flat, wide rice noodles called hor fun, which are stir-fried in light soy sauce, dark soy sauce and oyster sauce to give the noodles colour as much as flavour. In Cambodia, mee katang recipes typically include Chinese broccoli (kai lan or gai lan), julienned carrot and scrambled eggs, and while we love mee Katang with marinated pork, these noodles can also be stir-fried with beef or chicken, shrimps or mixed seafood.
Served ‘dry’ or ‘wet’, in a gravy made from a tapioca or corn starch slurry, mee Katang is also a cousin to Thailand’s pad see ew and a noodle dish called rad na and lad na in Thailand and Laos respectively, that share similar ingredients. Although surprisingly, while fish sauce, a favourite Khmer ingredient, is used in the noodle dishes in neighbouring countries, in Cambodia mee Katang recipes typically include salt and oyster sauce, reflecting mee Katang’s Chinese provenance.
I’ll tell you more about those Chinese origins of mee Katang in a moment, but for now I have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-supported, which means we rely on income generated from our readers to continue to share recipes and food stories. If you’ve cooked and like our Cambodian recipes, or any recipes on our site, please consider supporting Grantourismo.
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Now let me tell you about the origins of this Cambodian-Chinese mee Katang recipe.
Cambodian Mee Katang Recipe for Quick and Easy Chinese-Cambodian Cantonese Noodles
Our Cambodian mee katang recipe makes Cantonese noodles, a delicious Chinese-Cambodian stir-fry of fresh, flat, wide rice noodles, which are wok-fried with light and dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, marinated pork, beef, chicken or seafood, carrot, kai lan or gai lan (Chinese broccoli) and omelette. Mee Katang can be served ‘dry’ with charred noodles or ‘wet’ by adding a slurry of eiher tapioca starch or corn starch and water.
This Cambodian mee katang recipe is next in our series of Chinese-Cambodian recipes, which I’m exploring and recipe testing hand-in-hand with my research on the dishes of Cambodia’s Sino-Khmer communities for our Cambodian culinary history and cookbook project, which I linked to above.
I remember many years ago reading on a food blog that mee katang translated to ‘tangled noodles’, and while that would be an apt name, as these flat, wide, rice noodles can tangle up if you over-fry them when making a dry version of this dish, the real translation of Cantonese noodles reveals much about the origin of the dish.
Called ‘mee Kontang’ but pronounced ‘mee Katang’ – ‘mee’ means ‘noodles’ and ‘Cantonese’ is ‘Kontang’ in Khmer – by knowing this, we immediately get a sense of the long history of this dish. Knowing that it has cousins right across Southeast Asia gives us an insight into where Chinese diplomats, emissaries, adventurers, traders, merchants, sailors, and soldiers travelled and settled, without even researching the history of the region.
Canton was the English name for Guangzhou, which derived from the Portuguese ‘Cantão’, which is thought to have come from the Hakka ‘Kóng-tûng’, which sounds similar to the Khmer ‘Kontang’. Cantonese refers to the cuisine, culture, language, and the people who speak that language, who originated from the ancient port city of Guangzhou and surrounds in Southern China, as well as from Hong Kong and Macau.
Outside China, Cantonese is still spoken by some people in the Cantonese communities across Southeast Asia, in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, and elsewhere in the world where Cantonese-speaking people have emigrated. However, even when people lose those language skills, like many in the Cantonese Chinese-Cambodian community apparently have, they still retain their culinary memory and cook the dishes of their ancestors.
Interestingly, Guangzhou is known as ‘the City of Rice’ and the ‘City of Rams’, after the Taoist heroes who are said to have ridden sheep and goats and are credited with introducing rice cultivation to the region when the city was established. It therefore made sense that a Chinese rice-growing and eating people would continue to make and cook the flat, wide, rice noodles used in this dish in the new rice-growing country that they made their home.
Northern Chinese, by contrast, would not have been able to make their wheat noodles in Cambodia centuries ago. This also explains why mee Katang was so readily adopted by rice-growing Cambodians.
If Cambodia’s culinary history interests you, I’ll be sharing more about mee Katang, Chinese-Cambodian food, and it’s place in Cambodian cuisine, on our Patreon page, and you can sign up for as little as US$2, US$5, US$10 or whatever a month or make a one-off donation to get access to those posts.
In the meantime, I have some tips for you for this Cambodian mee Katang recipe.
Tips to Making this Cambodian Mee Katang Recipe
Just a few tips to making this Cambodian mee Katang recipe. While we’ve used pork, simply for the fact that the pork is so good here in Cambodia, the local beef is tough, and the imported beef expensive, you can use beef – or chicken or shrimps for that matter. Definitely marinate the beef, but there’s no need to marinate the chicken or shrimps.
We use fresh rice noodles for this mee Katang recipe, which are readily available from Cambodian markets and supermarkets. If you live outside Asia, you should be able to find the noodles in your nearest Asian supermarket or grocery store or Chinatown, and now is the time to support your Chinatown.
You’ll need to separate the fresh noodles so they don’t stick together when you stir-fry them. Take them out of the fridge and let them sit for a while, as this is easiest to do when they’re at room temperature. Take care, as they can still be tricky to pull apart and you don’t want to tear them.
Like the lort cha noodles, they will soon soften up after you start stir-frying them. We use a wok for stir-frying – and if you don’t have one yet, we recommend a carbon steel wok – however, you could use a skillet if you had to.
You shouldn’t have any issues sourcing a quality Chinese dark soy sauce, light soy sauce and oyster sauce, and if you prefer to use fish sauce instead of salt, we like Thailand’s Megachef, a premium quality fish sauce, because it’s consistent and widely available outside Southeast Asia. Although our American friends often recommend Red Boat fish sauce, however, we’ve not had a chance to test it out yet.
As always with Asian cooking, and particularly Southeast Asian cooking, treat the amounts of ingredients recommended in our mee Katang recipe as a guide. If you’re not familiar with the ingredients, you may wish to begin with half the amount, taste, and then add the remaining half. Always do this with salt and pepper.
I love to make this mee Katang recipe as a dry version, as I like the noodles to char a little and taste a tad smoky, however, this can also be made as a ‘wet’ dish with a gravy. In that case, prepare your slurry of tapioca starch or corn starch and water ahead of time and have it by the stove, as you’ll need to work quickly.
Portion-wise, this will make two big bowls of noodles for a filling meal, perhaps with some leftovers for seconds, however, you can always stretch this to four medium-sized bowls if you make a dish of pork and chive dumplings or platter of fried spring rolls to be shared.
Whether you’re making this mee Katang recipe as part of a Cambodian street food feast or just enjoying an easy meal at home in front of Netflix, make sure to have a condiment caddy of soy sauces, chilli sauce, chilli flakes, fish sauce, lime wedges, sugar, salt, and pepper on the table.
Cambodian Mee Katang Recipe for Cantonese Noodles
- 300 g pork sliced into bite-size pieces
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp corn starch
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 400 g fresh wide rice noodles or dried noodle follow instructions on packet
- neutral cooking oil
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- 1 tsp black pepper or to taste
- 1 carrot julienned
- 200 g Chinese broccoli stalks and leaves chopped into 4cm lengths
- 2 eggs scrambled
- 1 tbsp tapioca flour or corn starch mixed with ¼ cup of water
- Slice the pork into bite-size pieces then set aside to marinate in a teaspoon each of light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and corn starch for ten minutes.
- Carefully separate the fresh noodles so they don’t stick together when you fry them and set them aside while you finely-chop your garlic and vegetables so that the noodles are at room temperature by the time you toss them into the wok.
- In a medium-hot flat-bottomed wok, add a splash of cooking oil and stir-fry the garlic until you can smell the aromas, then before the garlic starts to brown add the pork to the wok, and stir-fry until cooked, taking care not to burn the garlic. Transfer the pork to a covered dish to keep warm.
- Add the julienned carrot and Chinese broccoli to the wok, and a little cooking oil if needed, stir fry just until the leaves start to wilt, then transfer to the pork.
- Add a little more oil to the wok, increase the heat, then add the noodles, sauces, sugar, salt, and pepper, and stir-fry until the noodles are entirely covered with sauce, brown, and a little charred. Note: if the noodles begin to break up and tangle, stop stir-frying, otherwise they will stick together.
- Push the noodles to the side, crack the eggs into the wok, scramble, then return the pork, vegetables and any juices to the noodles for a final stir-fry, ensuring everything is combined well.
- If you prefer ‘wet’ to ‘dry’ noodles, add the optional tapioca/corn starch slurry now, combine, taste, add more seasoning if needed, then serve immediately. Note: there should be enough for two big bowls for a filling meal or four medium bowls if serving with fried spring rolls.
- Provide chopsticks and a condiment caddy of soy sauces, fish sauce, chilli sauce, chilli flakes, lime wedges, sugar, salt, and pepper for your guests.
Please do let us know if you make our Cambodian mee Katang recipe in the comments below or on social media as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.