How To Cook Penang Oyster Omelette

Penang doesn’t pander. This is what I love most about the place – it took me several false starts; several trips to Malaysia’s most famous foodie destination – before I came to recognise that it deserved all the accolades it’s received in the media over the years. For the longest time before that, I thought it unfairly overshadowed other places in Malaysia, I thought the food was overrated, and I couldn’t understand why their char kway teow used thin rice noodles and looked so pale compared to the “southern” version I grew up loving and around which I’d built an entire food business and brand here in Australia, yada, yada.

I now love the food, and I absolutely love Penang Char Koay Teow (as it’s more commonly spelled there), but I especially love that Penang isn’t overly touristy, and that the local hawkers cook for the locals – they don’t tweak their recipes to make them tourist-friendly. Everything about the place is real and raw, not “disneyfied” (yes, I made that up) – when you go there, you feel like you’re inserting yourself into a vibrant local culture, not the other way around.

On to oyster omelette (aka Or Chien/Or Luak/Oh Chien/Oh Luak), which wasn’t something I was familiar with in my part of Malaysia. It’s popular in Melaka and Singapore, and I regularly order a crispy version of it in Kuala Lumpur, but it’s Penang where it’s most famous.

The ingredients in this dish are pretty straightforward – oysters, eggs, tapioca starch, garlic chives, garlic, fish sauce, white pepper and minced preserved radish (aka choy poh) – and it doesn’t take long to prepare – so it’s definitely something you should try at home, because it’s delicious.

Here’s my take on Penang oyster omelette from my Street Food Journeys: Malaysia (Penang) episode. The segment starts at the 8:10 mark, and the recipe follows below >>

Penang Oyster Omelette


1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 cup water
1/3 tsp salt
1/2 cup garlic chives, cut into 2-inch lengths
5 TBSP oil
4 eggs
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp minced preserved radish (choy poh)
1/2 cup fresh oysters
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp light soya sauce
1/2 tsp white pepper
Coriander leaves
Bottled chilli sauce


  1. Combine tapioca starch with cold water, mix into a thin batter.
  2. Heat a non-stick frying pan; pour a thin layer of batter on it, then swirl to make a thin layer.
  3. Add oil around the sides and fry until it starts to crisp around the edges.
  4. Beat eggs in bowl, then add to pan and swirl. Cook until lightly browned, then scramble with the tapioca starch and push to one side.
  5. Add oil and minced garlic, fry until garlic is fragrant. Add oysters, choy poh and seasoning.
  6. Mix well, remove and top with coriander leaves.
  7. Serve with bottled chilli sauce and optionally, some fresh minced garlic.

This Penang episode of Street Food Journeys: Malaysia also features –

  • Wantan Mee (wonton noodles) by Liam Zainal Ghani
  • a visit to the Char Koay Teow stall at Excellent Cafe
  • Toh Soon Kopitiam in Georgetown
  • Mee Goreng at the corner of Bangkok Lane and Burma Road
  • Mark O’Dea on a flying visit to Penang to eat Char Kway Teow and Oyster Omelette
  • Shaukani Abbas on places to visit in Penang
  • The Tropical Spice Garden’s Katharine Chua, who takes us on a walkthrough of the property
  • Masters of Malaysian Cuisine chefs Johari Edrus, Rene Juefri and Bob Adnin along with my Jackie M. community members Lynn Ong and GaikCheng Kevany, both of whom are from Penang, answering the question: “What dishes do you think of, when you think of Penang?”

The recipes for the entire series, produced in partnership with Tourism Malaysia Australia, can be found in the special edition MOMC eMagazine which you can download here >> Click to View or Download

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