Succulent beef slices stir fried with soft, springy rice noodles then seasoned with soy sauce, beef chow fun is a classic Cantonese delicacy not to miss.
When I was working in Beijing, I always loved visiting Hong Kong style Cha Can Ting/Cha chaan teng (茶餐厅, literally meaning Tea restaurant) for lunch. I’d order a plate of beef chow fun and a cup of Hong Kong style milk tea. Simple, tasty and very satisfying! While there are no local outlets serving an authentic version of this dish near to where I live in England, I’m lucky enough to be able to find all the ingredients needed locally to make Beef Chow Fun (Beef Ho Fun, 干炒牛河) in my own kitchen.
Beef chow fun consists of tender, succulent beef slices; soft, springy rice noodles; crispy beansprouts and aromatic Chinese chives. It’s tasty, comforting and nutritious (protein, vegetable and starch in one plate).
The Chinese name of this dish “干炒牛河” literally means “Dry fried beef and ho fun (a particular type of rice noodles)” As it suggests, the dish should look dry. That is to say, there shouldn’t be any excessive oil or sauce left on the plate when finished.
It’s not a complicated task to cook this delightful dish at home. However I’d like to share a few tips and tricks to help you have a fail-proof experience.
Make the beef tender
- Choose the right cut of beef. This is the key to tender, tasty beef stir fry dishes. I recommend flank or skirt steak.
- Remember to slice the beef against the grain, especially if you use cheaper cut of beef.
- Marinate the beef with soy sauce, cornstarch, water and a pinch of sugar. Massage the meat until it absorbs all the liquid. Then coat with a little oil to lock in the moisture.
Choose the right noodles
There are many types of Chinese rice noodles and they come in different shapes and forms. Authentic beef chow fun calls for a particular type named Sa-ho fun (沙河粉).
- Sa-ho fun are wide, slightly thick, non-transparent rice noodles.
- You may find them with different spellings such as Sa-ho fan, Sha he fen, etc. Show Chinese character 沙河粉 to the shop assistant if you have trouble finding them in Chinese stores.
- Use fresh sa-ho fun if available. They often come in a block pre-cut into strands. Prior to frying, gently separate them.
- Dried Sa-ho fun also work for this recipe. Follow the instructions on the package. Always remember not to overcook them and rinse under cold water right after boiling.
Use two types of soy sauce
Beef chow fun doesn’t require complicated seasoning. Two types of Chinese soy sauces are all that you need:
- Light soy sauce for its aromatic, sharp saltiness.
- Dark soy sauce for giving the dish an appetizing brown colour and a hint of sweetness to balance the taste.
Find out more about soy sauce in my previous post HERE.
Stir fry in sequence
To ensure the best texture of your homemade beef chow fun, please follow these steps when stir frying:
- Quickly fry the beef in oil. Transfer out as soon as it turns pale (Do not overcook).
- In the remaining oil, stir fry sa-ho fun using a pair of chopsticks (They work better than spatular which breaks the noodles more easily).
- Add in beansprouts & onion slices. Cook them for a short period of time to retain their crispiness.
- Finally stir in the beef, Chinese chive and the seasoning. Dish out as soon as everything is evenly coated with the sauce .
Another note: Make sure you use a well-seasoned wok or a non-stick wok.
Are you feeling motivated and confident to make this dish? Share your plateful with me on Instagram. I’d love to see them!