If you have a chance of going for Yum Cha in any Chinese restaurants, you might notice this traditional dish on their menu. The Stir-fried Rice Noodles with Beef (Beef chow fun, 乾炒牛河) is a classic Cantonese noodles. My father used to order it for us whenever we went to a Chinese restaurant, our all time favourite. I love eating it from childhood and it’s got lots of beautiful memories associated with this dish. Even after moving to Australia, I’d like to cook this dish every now and then, enjoying a cup of Chinese tea.
This dish looks simple, yet involves lots of cooking skills and experiences, as the Wikipedia says, “it’s a major test for chefs in Cantonese cooking”. But I don't want to intimate you to try and cook this dish at home, it can be done nicely with some measures taken into account.
Stir-fried Rice Noodles with Beef (Printable recipe)
- 500 gm flat rice noodles ("hefen" or known as "Shahe fen" 河粉), available at Asian stores
- 150 gm beef
- 1/2 onion, shredded
- 120 gm bean sprouts, trimmed
- shredded ginger, to taste
- 1 stalk spring onion, chopped
- 2 1/2 tsp light soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp corn flour
- 3/4 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp water
- sesame oil, to taste
- 2 Tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp dark soy sauce, or to taste
- Salt, to taste
- 1 tsp Sugar
- Rinse beef and wrap dry with kitchen papers. Thinly slide across the grain. Mix with marinade for 15 minutes. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Place beef on a single layer and fry both sides, until they are 70% cooked. (Note: Don’t need to stir the beef. The yummy meat juice inside will leak if the heat is down otherwise. This frying method helps the surface of your beef to be cooked quickly and seal the juice inside.) Set aside.
- Heat more oil in pan. Add onion and stir fry until translucent and fragrant. Be sure not to burn them. Add ginger and bean sprouts. When the bean sprouts are softened, push the onion and bean sprouts to the sides of pan if it’s big enough, or dish them up if your pan is too small. Increase heat to high. Toss in flat noodles and stir fry until it’s really heated up. Add seasoning. Remember to taste by yourself. Add more light soy sauce if needed, bit by bit at a time. If you find the colour of flat noodles is not dark enough, you can add more dark soy sauce if you like. Mind you that if too much dark soy sauce is added, your noodles will taste bitter.
- Toss back the beef, onion and bean sprouts, combine all ingredients. Add spring onion and mix. Serve hot.
- Trim the tails of bean sprouts if you have time, and get a better looking. But I have to say, it takes lots of time and effort to trim every tiny bean sprout. Some Asian stores would have trimmed bean sprouts available, but much expensive than the regular ones. Having said that, if you don’t trim them, it’s not a big deal because the whole bean sprout can be eaten and is nutritious. Just the looking is different.
- If you don’t want soggy and sticky fried flat noodles, don’t ever blanch them. If you do, there’s no way to turn them around. Normally, when you get a packet of flat rice noodles, they are coated with some oil. You can just drop them into a frying pan and stir fry right away. Use less oil in pan, of course. If you’re concerned with the hygiene, you might like to put the rice noodles in a drainer, then pour over boiling water to wash away the oil on the surface. Drain very well.
- When it comes to frying flat rice noodles, it should be soft, smooth and seasoned with the flavour of soy sauce. We all like very hot and tasty fried noodles, right? Many people would find it’s not easy to get very hot flat rice noodles in good shape. The flat rice noodles are very fragile in a certain sense. They would quickly and easily break into pieces and turn into a mess. So in a Cantonese restaurant, the heat that the chef used is very high (It’s known as "wok hei" 鑊氣) and the chef only flips the wok without stirring the noodles too much and get the dish done very quickly. But in home cooking, the temperature of our stoves is not as high as those in Chinese restaurants. Is there any way of cooking a nice plate of HOT fried flat noodles without stirring too much?
- Here’s a quick and simple way: Preheat them in a microwave! Carefully separate each strip of rice noodles apart before tossing them in your pan.