Beef Chow Fun (Beef Ho Fun, 干炒牛河)

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:

  1. Quickly fry the beef in oil. Transfer out as soon as it turns pale (Do not overcook).
  2. 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).
  3. Add in beansprouts & onion slices. Cook them for a short period of time to retain their crispiness.
  4. 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. 

Beef Chow Fun (Beef Ho Fun, 干炒牛河)
Rate this recipe
16 ratings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

Beef Chow Fun (Beef Ho Fun, 干炒牛河)

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.

Ingredients

    For the beef:
  • 140g/5oz beef (preferably flank/skirt steak)
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cooking oil
    You also need:
  • 450g/16oz sa-ho fun (see note 1)
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 60g/2oz beansprouts
  • 1/4 onion, thinly sliced
  • 30g/1oz Chinese chives (see note 2)
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Marinate the beef: Slice the beef against the grain. Mix with light soy sauce, rice wine, cornstarch, water and sugar. Coat with oil then leave to rest for 15 minutes.
  2. Prepare the rice noodles: ① If using fresh ones: Gently separate the sa-ho fun by hand into long strands (try not to break them into small pieces). ② If using dried ones: follow the instructions on the package to cook then rinse under cold water prior to stir frying.
  3. Stir fry step 1: Pour oil into a hot wok. Stir in the marinated beef slices. Fry until they just turn pale (do not overcook). Dish out and leave the oil in the wok.
  4. Stir fry step 2: Put in sa-ho fun. Gently stir around with a pair of chopsticks. When the sa-ho fun begin to wilt, add in beansprouts and onion. Fry for 30 seconds or so.
  5. Stir fry step 3: Add the beef and Chinese chives. Pour in light soy sauce and dark soy sauce. Cook for a further 30 seconds.

Notes

1. Sa-ho fun is a variety of Chinese rice noodles. They are wide, slightly thick and non-transparent. You may find them with different spellings such as Sa-ho fan, Sha he fen, etc. Or you can identify them by Chinese character 沙河粉.

2. There are two types of Chinese chives: regular green coloured chives or yellow chives which have a milder flavour and a hint of sweetness. Authentic Cantonese beef chow fun calls for the latter. Yellow chives are much less accessible outside China. Please feel free to use the regular ones.

https://redhousespice.com/beef-chow-fun/

Are you feeling motivated and confident to make this dish? Share your plateful with me on Instagram. I’d love to see them!

Happy cooking!

An enthusiastic cook with a Chinese palate and a global mindset.

2 thoughts

  1. Hi Wei,

    There are many beef chow fun recipes on the internet. I’m looking for an authentic version. Can I consider your version to be authentic? Is it correct that there’s no oyster sauce, garlic and ginger in an authentic beef chow fun?

    Thanks in advance and greetings from The Netherlands,

    Fred

  2. Hi Fred! Yes you are correct that authentic beef chow fun doesn’t call for oyster sauce, garlic and ginger. I add a little onion to the traditional recipe as I personally like a little oniony flavour. Also as I mentioned in my recipe notes, authentic recipe calls for yellow Chinese chives. I use regular green Chinese chives as the yellow ones are much less accessible outside China.

I'd like to hear from you

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.