Every now and then I have to break out with an Asian dish. I don’t know what it is, but I’ll just be trying to do my thing, following my weekly menu plan and something will “spark me.” That’s how I think of it when I get one of these inspiration/craving kind of things! I see the bottle of soy sauce, maybe there was a commercial on tv or a pic in a magazine, or maybe I just drove by an Asian restaurant…honestly, it doesn’t take much to get me to want to make something, and that’s why I made Beef Chow Fun – Gon Chow Ngau Ho.
When I first started making Beef Chow Fun it wasn’t something I was that familiar with. I don’t know if you’re like me, but when I go to an Asian restaurant, I order the same couple of things all of the time. They’re things I look forward to, and things I don’t make at home, so I pretty much ignore the whole of the 10,000 other menu items! Note to self, get better about exploring different foods at restaurants! So long story short, I’ve never had Beef Chow Fun in a restaurant!
About Beef Chow Fun:
But that wasn’t going to keep me from exploring and trying and tinkering with this Beef Chow Fun recipe until I came up with something I absolutely loved! I think you’ll love it too, and if you’re as unfamiliar as I was, image a hot skillet (or wok if you use one) full of tender beef that’s soaked up a flavorful marinade and gorgeous glossy noodles all punctuated by the freshness of green onion and tangled with bean sprouts.
Beef Chow Fun is like perfect comfort food, and it’s fast, easy and what I think of as a high payoff meal. Very little time or effort and you look like a genius when it’s served. But speaking of comfort food, if you have someone in the family that’s into just meat and potatoes, try this on them – it’s just a little nudge towards beef & noodles. It’s probably the perfect dish, too, if you have someone in the fam that won’t eat a lot of veggies…this went over very well with my Dad who loves anything AND my Stepmom who will hardly touch a veggie…and she’s 92 now! And if you want veggies (I always do) a little stir-fried broccoli or maybe some snap peas would make a gorgeous side.
The sauce has the classic Cantonese flavors of soy, Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry if you don’t have the wine) ginger and garlic and a touch of oyster sauce. Honestly, if you can’t find oyster sauce, I’ve made this with a little hoisin sauce and loved the dish that way, too. About the only thing in the dish that might have to be searched out is the dark soy; it’s sweeter than the standard soy sauce and since usually it’s hardly ever used in a large quantity and keeps forever, if you make a lot of Asian recipes it’s worthwhile finding; if not, just add a smidge of sugar to the recipe for a little balance.
Making Beef Chow Fun:
The beef you use realy isn’t particular for this recipe. I’ve used cuts from the round and sirloin and they were both great. What is important is that it be very thnly sliced against the grain. If the cut is thick, cut it in half horizontally so you’re working with a cut that’s about an inch thick. To make it easier to slice, toss it in the freezer for about 20 minutes and make sure your knife is very sharp. Then slice very thinly across the grain, preferably at just a bit of an angle. If the slices are long, cut them down to about 2 1/2 to three inches long.
When you make Beef Chow Fun, it’s typically made with a wide rice noodle. Unless you can get them fresh, they’re going to soak for 30 minutes in warm water before they can be used. That’s perfect because as they soak, your beef can be sliced thinly and tossed in the marinade ingredients, and you can prepare the rest of the ingredients.
You do want to make sure everything is all set to go before you start this dish. It cooks fast and there will be no time to fiddle with anything. First, you’ll cook the beef and set it aside, then toss in the onion, ginger, and garlic. As soon as they’ve softened up a bit, in go the noodles and the sauce.
Once the noodles go in, you’ll coat them quickly, turning them in the sauce and then just add the beef back in along with the bean sprouts and toss the noodles a couple of times. That’s it; all that’s left is to add the green onions and serve. After the noodles are in, don’t mess around. Just turn them, toss quickly and work fast. They can become sticky if you’re not careful; there’s a save…add a little water if you need to but do take a little care and you’ll be just fine.
Saving Money on Beef Chow Fun:
You can use just about any type of beef or steak for this recipe, so buy what your budget and taste allow. The method of thinly slicing, marinating and flash frying until just barely done will make any cut of beef tender enough to eat. I shop the specials and sometimes will find small roasts of the same cut or family packs are less per pound than a single steak of the right weight. In that case, divide, prep in amounts and for dishes you wish to make in the future and label then freeze.
If you have an Asian market nearby, that’s going to be the best place to buy the soy, wine, bean sprouts sesame oil and noodles. Luckily for me, one opened that’s not too far from my house and I bought the noodles there for a pittance. I did check on Amazon and the prices I saw were outrageous If you’re on a budget, and your store doesn’t carry this type of noodle (mine had rice noodle and rice “sticks” but they were not the wide ones) you may wish to substitute a thinner noodle which is more widely available. Just be careful when tossing them in the dish so they don’t break up.
If you’re buying bean sprouts in a can, you’ll find they’re usually about a cup and a half of sprouts. I just drain in a strainer over a container to catch the liquid, then freeze the portion I don’t need for the recipe in a Ziploc along with the liquid. They’ll be just fine in the freezer for several months. Any soy sauce keeps for months, maybe years, at room temperature, but do refrigerate your sesame oil. It may solidify in the fridge so bring it to room temperature or zap for about 5 seconds in the microwave to liquify.
Beef Chow Fun
Read through the recipe, and prepare, measure and have at the ready all ingredients as well as a plate to place the cooked beef on, a thin spatula and a pair of tongs. This recipe cooks very quickly. Note that dry noodles may need a bit more liquid than fresh, but if using either, be prepared to add a tablespoon or two of water if the dish becomes sticky after adding the noodles.
- 8 ounces of wide, dry, flat rice noodles (or fresh if available)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
Soak dry noodles according to package instructions. Most will require a 30-minute soak in warm water. When time is up, drain thoroughly and gently toss with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil to help keep them separated. If using fresh noodles, add to boiling water and simmer until al dente, cooked with just a bit of a resistance to a bite, then drain and toss with the sesame oil.
- 12 ounces beef of choice, thinly sliced against the grain 1/8th to 1/4″ thick
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
In a small bowl, gently but thoroughly mix all ingredients together until beef is coated. Set aside and marinade for 15 to 30 minutes at room temperature.
Stir Fry Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce (if not available, use soy sauce and add an additional 1/4 teaspoon of sugar)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
Mix ingredients together and set aside. Stir before adding to the pan.
Putting it together:
- 2 tablespoons oil, divided
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced pole to pole
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 cup bean sprouts, if canned rinsed and drained well, if fresh, blanched in boiling water until tender-crisp, then drained
- 3 to 4 green or spring onions, green parts only, sliced in 2″ sections
- a tablespoon or two of water, if needed
Place prepared onion, ginger, and garlic in a bowl, set aside until ready to use. Prepare bean sprouts, place in a bowl and set aside. Slice green onions and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the beef and quickly spread into an even layer. Allow to cook until the beef sears and turns brownish, about a minute. Using a thin spatula or tongs, turn beef over and stir until cooked through, but still a little pink in the middle, about 30 seconds longer. Immediately remove beef to a plate and set aside.
Working quickly, add the remaining tablespoon of oil, then immediately add the onions, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. A thin spatula is best for this job. If the bottom of the skillet is in danger of burning, add a tablespoon of water.
Add the noodles, turning over once or twice, then the sauce. Using a spatula, immediately turn the noodles in the sauce while scraping any residue off the bottom of the pan, then add the beef along with any juices and the bean sprouts. Switch to tongs, and toss the noodles gently turning once or twice, for 30 seconds or a minute or so until the noodles begin to absorb the sauce. If the noodles aren’t cooked to the desired consistency when the sauce is absorbed or if the dish becomes sticky, add a bit of water, a tablespoon at a time. When finished, remove from heat, add the green portions of the green onions, toss once more and serve immediately.