A classic Cantonese Beef Chow Fun Noodles recipe (aka Gon Chow Ngo Ho) made with fresh flat ho fun rice noodles and tender flavourful beef slices that is simple and quick to throw together so you can enjoy this any day of the week!
Beef chow fun is addictive with its chewy noodles and flavourful tender beef slices and it’s so easy to sit down and finish off the whole thing yourself without even knowing it. Even though it is easy to find these at takeout joints, you can easily make this at home for yourself as well, just make sure you have a good non-stick pan/well-seasoned wok on hand.
The hardest part about this beef chow fun at home is making the noodles just right so they are not shredded into tiny pieces or mushy. Fresh ho fun is a tricky ingredient to work with at first, but once you get used to using it, it can be an amazing noodle to use to get dinner on the table in minutes.
When I first started making beef chow fun at home, I used to buy whatever fresh ho fun I could find and thought they were all the same, boy was I wrong. The key to having long strands of chewy ho fun noodles that can withstand stir-frying is buying the right type of ho fun noodles.
For this beef chow fun recipe, most of these ingredients can be found at your local Asian grocery store.
For the beef, you can use flank steak or any type of steak as long as you cut the beef into thin slices against the grain.
If you can find it, try to use white onion. White onion is a lot sweeter and has a milder onion flavor so that when you flash fry it quickly and it’s still semi-raw it will have a nice sweet crunch without that strong raw onion bite. If you can’t find white onions, yellow onions work as well but cook them a bit more to remove the strong onion flavor.
HOW TO PICK FRESH HO FUN
When you are looking for fresh ho fun, we want to look for the fresh ho fun called “SA” ho fun which is for stir-frying. Sometimes it is written in English (like in the picture below) and sometimes it isn’t and it will just say “ho fun” in English. I marked the Chinese word “SA” in a circle in the photo so you know what that word would look like in Chinese so you can reference it if you need to. 🙂
For any kind of stir-frying, try to stay away from the fresh ho funs that is smushed into a tiny bags (these are usually used for soup noodles), attempting to break up a solid brick of fresh ho fun noodles up will usually produce a very shredded and broken up noodle dish. You want to find ho fun that is either a sheet (that you can cut yourself) or pre-cut and laid out in strands. If you can’t find either of them you can use the dried flat rice noodles as well, just make sure it is wide and not the thin ones.
I personally find the pre-cut fresh ho fun works best – even though separating the noodles is a bit of a pain 🙂 I have not tried using dried rice noodles for this dish but it will be something I plan to test and will update this when I do!
PREPARE EVERYTHING AHEAD OF TIME BEFORE COOKING
For this beef chow fun recipe, it is crucial to have everything prepared and on hand before heating up the wok/pan to start cooking this dish, this is because you need to work fast so that the noodles are cooked enough but not too cooked that it melts into the pan into a gloopy mess.
PREPARING THE NOODLES
This preparation step is pretty crucial to achieving evenly cooked noodles. When you are making this dish, you will be cooking it fast over high heat and noodles that are not separated will stick together and break up into small broken pieces so it’s definitely worth the effort to separate them before you start cooking.
To break up fresh ho fun, I use the microwave and nuke it for 1-2 minutes, at 30-second intervals. At the 1 minute mark, check if the noodles are soft and easy to separate by hand. Usually, the noodles on the outer edge of the plate will get soft first, move the soft noodles into the middle of the plate and nuke it for another 30-60 seconds until everything is soft. Let the noodles cool before completely before stir frying it.
An alternative to microwaving the noodles to separate them would be to steam them. Make sure the noodles have completely cooled before stir-frying.
NON-STICK PAN OR A WELL SEASONED WOK WORKS BEST
If you have ever made stir-fried fresh ho fun noodles, you will know that they can easily stick to frying pans and half your noodles will end up burnt and glued on to the bottom of the pan. The best way to avoid this is to make sure you use a non-stick frying pan or a very well seasoned wok.
Beef Chow Fun (Beef Ho Fun)
- 300 g flank steak (or any type of steak, cut thinly against the grain)
- 2-3 stalks green onion
- 1/3 white onion
- 750 g fresh sa ho fun noodles (1 package)
- 2 handfuls bean sprouts (approx. 1 ¼ cups)
- Wash the bean sprouts and set aside
- Cut 1/3 of a white onion into slices and set aside
- Wash the green onions and cut off the root ends. Cut the green onions into 2-inch segments. For the thicker parts of the green onions (the white parts) cut those in half lengthwise as well so they are easier to cook and not chunky. Set aside
- Slice the beef against the grain, and place it in a bowl with the marinating sauce. Mix well and set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.
Prepare and Soften the Noodles
- Place the fresh noodles on a plate and microwave it for 1-2 minutes in 30-40 second intervals. At the 1 minute mark, try to loosen up the noodles with your hands. The noodles on the outer edge of the plate usually will soften up first. Loosen the soft ones first, and then put them in the middle of the plate so the non-softened ones can be on the outer edge of the plate to have a chance to get soft.
- Once the noodles are a little soft and separated, set them aside to cool completely before stir-frying.
Making the Sauce
- In a small bowl, combine all the sauce ingredients and set aside.
Putting It Together
- Set the stove to high heat and add a bit of oil to a non-stick frying pan or well-seasoned wok.
- Once the pan is hot, add in the beef and cook it for about 1-2 minutes (No more than 2 minutes) Once it is cooked (it's okay for it to be medium rare), remove the beef and set aside for later
- Clean out the frying pan/wok and add in a bit of oil. Once the oil is hot add in the white onion and cook for about 1 minute.
- Then add in the noodles and the sauce mix at the same time and stir the noodles with the sauce. Use the sauce to soften up the noodles more, and keep moving the noodles around so it doesn't sit too long against the pan (else it might stick to it). Cook it for about 1-2 minutes or until it looks soft.
- Throw in the bean sprouts and green onions and the cooked beef and quickly toss it into the noodles and turn off the heat.
- Continue to toss everything together and let the bean sprouts and green onions cook with the residual heat from the pan
- Remove from pan and enjoy! 🙂
- Try to use chopsticks instead of a spatula to toss and push the food around in the pan. Chopsticks are a bit more gentle and will help with keeping the noodles intact and not breaking it up into small pieces.
- Non-stick pan or well seasoned wok is important for this recipe
- If you are having a hard time cutting thin slices of beef, stick the beef in the freezer for 30-40 minutes and then try again. The firmness from it being frozen will make it easier to cut.
- An alternative to microwaving the noodles to soften it, is to steam it.
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