It can be hard to find a good beef chow fun stir-fry at a Chinese restaurant. Sometimes it’s overly greasy or lacking good flavor. But when the Cantonese dish is spot on, it’s delicious. My best bet for a consistently good beef chow fun is to make it at home. Plus, I know that I’ll have all that I want.
When I go to a Chinese market, I look for fresh rice noodles. They are typically sold as folded slabs on Styrofoam trays near the refrigerated foods and produce section. I look for ones labeled ‘chow fun noodles’ or noodles cut to the width of pappardelle (1/2-inch wide); think of super fat banh pho rice noodles and you’ll understand what chow fun noodles should look like. I poke at them to ensure that they’re fresh. They should be soft. Unrefrigerated soft noodles are best but firm refrigerated firm noodles will work too. In a pinch, you can boil wide dried banh pho rice noodles for this dish. Just drain them well and toss with a little salt and oil. Then let them dry completely before stir-frying. (See the banh pho rice noodle buying guide if you need an assist.)
Once home, I make this stir-fry with the noodles. If you have to refrigerate them for a few days, they’ll harden but still okay to work with. Pork or chicken thigh can stand in for the beef. This is a great one-dish meal to share with someone you love or like a lot.
Beef Chow Fun
Yield: Serves 2 as a one-dish meal, 4 as part of a larger meal
- 8 ounces flank steak
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons dark (thick) soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 pound fresh chow fun rice noodles (pre-cut to 1/2 inch wide)
- 3 green onions, cut into 1 1/4-inch lengths
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons light (regular) soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon fermented black beans, smashed or mashed with a knife blade
- 3 cups bean sprouts, rinsed and drained well
- 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- Cut the beef with the grain into 2-inch wide strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Transfer to a bowl. Add the cornstarch, dark soy sauce, and sesame oil. Stir or massage to coat the meat well. Set aside.
- Separate the noodles into strips. Some may break into shorter lengths. Set aside on a plate. Smack the white sections of the green onion with the flat side of the knife, then put into a small bowl; add the ginger and garlic. Keep the green sections in another bowl to add separately.
- In a small bowl, stir together the white pepper, sugar, soy sauce, rice wine, oyster sauce, and water. Put this seasoning liquid near the stove with all the other ingredients.
- Heat a large wok or nonstick skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes in 1 to 2 seconds. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of oil, then add the ginger, garlic, and crushed sections of green onion. Stir-fry for 15 seconds, until aromatic, then bank on the side. Add the beef, spreading it out into a flat layer. Sear, undisturbed, for 1 minute. Add the black beans, then stir-fry the beef for 30 seconds, until barely cooked through. Transfer to a plate. Rinse and dry the pan well.
- Reheat the pan over high heat, swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, then add the noodles, spreading them out to a thick layer. Sear, undisturbed for 1 minute, until a tad crusty. Dump in the bean sprouts, then vigorously stir-fry for 1 minute, until the sprouts have slightly softened. Some noodles may stick to the pan.
- Return the beef and any juices and add the remaining green onion sections. Stir to combine, then pour in the seasoning liquid. Stir-fry for 1 minute to heat through and finish cooking the beef. Pile onto a platter and serve immediately.
If you have tweaks, tips or variations of stir-fried beef chow, do tell.
- Fermented Black Beans: primer and buying guide
- Banh Pho rice noodle buying guide
- Vietnamese garlic noodles recipe
- Stir-fried Silver Pin Noodles recipe