I grew up eating beef Chow Fun. This dish is a Cantonese staple we always bought as takeout, but this time I wanted to make my own. In a little over half an hour you'll have a tasty wide rice noodle dish on the table. It's one of my favorite Cantonese recipes!
On top of being authentic, this particular recipe for beef chow fun is also accessible. Traditionally, beef chow fun is prepared in a wok over high heat – preferably an open flame. If you have a seasoned wok, you can prepare this recipe that way, but I have included instructions that will work in any kitchen, using a basic skillet. With these steps, you can achieve a great beef chow fun without a wok.
Why You'll Love This Beef Chow Fun
• Cantonese Classic – This recipe is an authentic representation of real Cantonese food. You won’t find this favorite at your local Chinese takeout, but with this recipe you can make it yourself.
• Nutrient Dense – Though this recipe contains both beef and noodles, the nutritional tradeoff is pretty great. This dish includes a healthy serving of protein, iron, vitamin c, calcium, fiber, and potassium. It also contains antioxidants. Sometimes people worry about the sodium content in Chinese food, however, consider that the main source of sodium in this dish is soy sauce, and soy sauce is not all bad. It contains b vitamin niacin, which promotes heart health, and it helps your body produce healthy cholesterol.
Ingredients For Beef
- Flank Steak – For authentic beef chow fun, you have to use the right kind of steak. Flank steak is the way to go. You want to slice it into 3 inch pieces. To get a nice, thin slice, cut against the grain. If you struggle with cutting meat, another great tip is to stick it in the freezer until it is partially (but not completely) frozen. It will be firmer, and thus easier to slice.
- Olive Oil – Since this dish gets cooked on such high heats, I recommend using olive or canola oil. You will need it for the cooking process, and you will also need it for the marinating process. Using oil in your marinade helps to lock in moisture which will make your meat juicy and tender.
- Cornstarch – Cornstarch is an important part of your marinade because it will protect the meat once you start cooking. Using high heat lends the dish an element of flavor, but you want to make sure you treat your meat properly so that the high heat does not damage it.
- Sugar – There isn’t a lot of sugar in this recipe, but just enough to add a really yummy layer of flavor. You will need one teaspoon for your marinade and another for the rest of the dish.
- Soy Sauce – One unique part of beef chow fun is that it utilizes a combination of light and dark soy sauce. It is a delicate balance, as dark soy sauce has a much stronger flavor.
- Vinegar - adds a little tangy flavor to the dish.
Ingredients for Chow Fun
- Wide Rice Noodles – Ideally, you would use fresh rice noodles for this dish. You want the flat, wide type, also called ho fun. You can find them at your Asian market. If you aren’t able to make it to an Asian grocery, and you cannot access fresh rice noodles, choose the widest variety of packaged rice noodles that your grocery store offers, and prepare them before beginning this recipe. Once they are cooked, quickly rinse them under cold water.
- Ginger – You will need a little freshly minced ginger for your dish. When it comes to seasoning a dish, fresh will always offer the best flavor, but you can also use ginger paste from the produce section of your local supermarket.
- Shaoxing Wine – Shaoxing is a type of Chinese cooking wine. It is a rice wine, and it is part of what gives many dishes their signature Chinese flavor. Shaoxing is the specific type that you want, but if you can’t find it, you can use another rice wine, or – in a pinch – rice vinegar.
- Salt and Pepper – The salt in this recipe is optional. You may find that the soy sauce offers enough saltiness. However, do include the pepper!
- Red Pepper – This is also optional if you enjoy a little spice.
- Chinese Chives – Garlic chives, Chinese chives, or gow choy, have a slightly different flavor than chives. Where you might chop chives into smaller pieces to use as a seasoning or garnish, Chinese chives are used more as a vegetable, so you can chop yours in larger pieces for this recipe. If you can’t find Chinese chives, you could substitute regular chives or shallots, and add a little garlic.
How To Make It
1. Combine soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, cornstarch and olive oil or vegetable oil with the flank steak. Marinate in the fridge for 15 minutes.
2. Over high heat sauté the beef for 5 minutes. Remove steak from pan.
3. Lower heat and add fresh noodles to the pan with the leftover steak juices and cook for 2-3 minutes until noodles begin to soften.
4. Add in onions and soy bean sprouts to the pan and cook for another 2 minutes.
5. Add the remaining vinegar, sugar, ginger, oil and both soy sauces. Cook for another 3 minutes.
6. Gently add the steak to the noodles, chives and pepper. Season with salt and red pepper flakes if desired. Simmer for another 5 minutes and serve warm.
Step by Step Instruction
First, prepare your steak marinade. Combine 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine, sugar, cornstarch, and olive oil. Place your steak in the mixture and marinate in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Once your steak has finished marinating, it is time to cook! Heat your pan or wok over high heat. Sauté the steak for 5 minutes. Once the pink has begun to dissipate, and the steak has reached an internal temperature of 165, remove it from the skillet and set aside.
Next, lower the heat the medium and add your rice noodles. You can leave the juices from the steak in the pan to flavor the rest of the dish. Cook the rice noodles for 2-3 minutes, until they soften.
Add your sliced onions and bean sprouts to the pan, and cook for an additional 2 minutes, doing your best to gently keep the pan moving by stirring or agitating the pan.
Then you'll want toadd the rest of your rice wine, sugar, olive oil, ginger, and light and dark soy sauce. Cook for 3 more minutes.
Finally, add your flank steak back into the pan. Add your Chinese chives and pepper. Add salt and red pepper flakes if desired. Simmer for 5 minutes and enjoy!
- Keep leftovers in an airtight container up to 4 days in fridge.
- Reheat by stovetop for 4-5 minutes over medium heat or microwave for 60-90 seconds.
- Beef chow fun is traditionally prepared by tossing the ingredients, rather than stirring them. Part of the reason for this is to incorporate the smokiness from the open flame when it is cooked in a wok. However, another part of it is that rice noodles can be fragile, so if you are preparing this in a skillet, be sure to gently fold the ingredients in as you add them. You can use a wooden spoon, chopsticks, or tongs in place of a spatula.
- One thing that makes beef chow fun is that it doesn’t exactly have a sauce. While you add wet ingredients to the pan, they should mostly get absorbed and evaporated. Keep this in mind when adding your ingredients to the pan. If it looks like there is not enough liquid, don’t add more. The ingredients you are adding are very flavorful
- This is a great dish to pair with vegetable stir fry. I've also added leftover stir fried vegetables to it.
- You may also add a little oyster sauce if you like you chow fun a little sweet. This is such a fun noodles recipe. Feel free to substitute the beef with tofu, chicken, or shrimp and add some green onion if you wish.
Chow mein is made with round egg noodles, while chow fun is made with wide, flat rice noodles.
Chinese folks refer beef chow fun to as dry because there is not excess sauce in the pan. The wet version of the dish is cooked in a sauce. This obviously affects the flavor, but it also affects the texture of the noodles.
These dishes are similar in nutritional value. While chow mein may be cooked using more oil, they are otherwise pretty similar.
Fun in a Chinese dish means rice noodles “Chow” means fried.
Vegetable is an easy swap for olive oil, but sesame oil will change the aroma of the dish.
Looking for more Asian Inspired Recipes? Try These:
Beef Chow Fun
For The Beef
- 12 oz Flank Steak cut into 3” pieces
- 1 tbs Olive or Canola Oil
- 2 tsp Corn Starch
- 1 tbs Shaoxing Rice Wine or Rice Wine Vinegar or White Vinegar
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 1 tbs Light Soy Sauce
For The Noodles
- 12 oz Fresh Wide Cut Flat Rice Noodles
- 1 cup Fresh Soy Bean Sprouts
- ⅓ cup Onion Sliced
- 2 tbs Shaoxing Rice Wine or Rice Wine Vinegar or White Vinegar
- 1 tsp Sugar
- ½ tsp Minced Ginger Root
- 1 tsp Olive Oil or Canola Oil
- 2 tbs Light Soy Sauce
- 1 tbs Dark Soy Sauce
- ¼ tsp Salt optional
- ¼ tsp Pepper
- ¼ tsp Red Pepper Flakes optional
- ¼ cup Chinese Chives chopped
- Start by combining the light soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, corn starch and olive oil with the flank steak and marinate for 15 minutes in the fridge.
- Over high heat saute the marinated steak for 5 minutes or until pink is starting to dissipate. Steak is done when internal temperature reaches 165F. Remove steak from pan and save for later.
- After lowering the heat, add fresh noodles to the pan with the left-over steak juices and cook for 2-3 minutes until noodles begin to soften.
- Stir in the sliced onions and soy bean sprouts to the pan and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add the remaining vinegar, sugar, ginger, oil and both soy sauces. Cook for another 3 minutes.
- Gently toss back the flank steak to the noodles, along with the Chinese chives and pepper. You may also add salt and red pepper flakes if desired. Simmer for another 5 minutes and serve warm.
- Can be kept in an air tight container up to 4 days in fridge.
- Reheat by stove top for 4-5 minutes over medium heat or microwave for 60-90 seconds.
- Noodles may be fragile so gently fold when adding ingredients to them in the pan.