Beef Chow Fun干炒牛河gàn chǎo niú hé

coverThis Cantonese dish is made from stir-frying beef and wide rice noodles. You will find it in any Dim Sum restaurants. You can certainly make it at home. Try to get the fresh rice noodles at your local Asian markets. But if no luck, you can also substitute dried rice noodles, similar to what you would use for pad Thai.

An important element in beef chow fun is to get that elusive wok flavor镬气(huò qì)or 锅气 found in Chinese stir-fried dishes. It refers to the “breath of the wok” when cooking over very high heat, and the unique umami flavor that results. If this sounds difficult to achieve at your home kitchen, you can get close to it by separating the chow fen into small batches to really get the full effect of the Cantonese street food vendors who make chow fen to order one serving at a time.

The other tip is to use chopsticks to toss the noodles instead of spatula to keep the noodles from getting stuck together without breaking them. 

Serves 3-4

  • 150g                               dried wide rice noodles or 400g fresh wide rice noodles
  • ½ pound or 220g         beef (sirloin steak or any cut good for stir fry), thinly sliced and cut for bite-size
  • 2 tablespoons              cooking oil
  • ¼                                     medium size yellow onion, sliced
  • A small bunch of Chinese green chives or spring onions韭菜
  • 1 cup               mung bean sprouts,washed and drained, 豆芽

Marinade sauce for beef

  • 1 tablespoon                  Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 teaspoon                      light soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon                 oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon                       sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon                  corn starch
  • A pinch of white peppercorn powder

Stir-fry sauce

  • ½ tablespoon                           light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon                               dark soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon                               caster sugar
  • 1 cup stock or waterIMG_6733


  1. Soak the wide rice noodles in warm water for about 20 minutes, and drain in a colander. If the noodles are in really long strands, you will want to cut them into 10- to 12-inch lengths, or you will end up with a huge noodle ball when cooking. And nobody wants a huge noodle ball. If you use fresh rice noodles, you can skip this step.
  2. In the meantime, cut beef into thin slices, put into a bowl. And then add all of ingredients for marinade sauce. Stir until well combined and set aside for around 15 minutes.
  3. Prepare the stir-fry sauce by mixing all the ingredients in a bowl.IMG_6737
  4. Heat up 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a wok. Add beef slices in to cook around half minute or just until the color of beef slices changes. Transfer the beef slices out but leave the residual oil in.
  5. Add into the sliced onion over low heat till soft and fragrant. Then stir in the rice noodles. Use chopsticks and stir in for 1-2 minutes. Then add into the stir -fry sauce. Keep tossing your pan or wok until the noodles are well coated with the sauce. Gradually add into 1 cup of water or stock till absorbed by the noodles. The process takes about 5 minutes.
  6. Return beef slices, bean sprouts and 2/3 of the chives and fry for another 1 minute. Keep tossing the noodles with chopsticks to avoid noodles stick together.
  7. Transfer the noodles into a serving plate. Garnish with the rest of the chives. Serve hot!

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