Beef Chow Fun is clearly one of my top 10 favorite Chinese dishes. I could easily devour a heeping plateful of this savory, slightly chewy stir-fry rice noodles and not even bat an eyebrow. I always order it in restaurants but refuse to make it at home, citing lack of proper cookware. All that I owned thus far, were nonstick woks, expensive but worthless. High heat on a nonstick wok is detrimental to its longevity and overall performance.
However, I recently purchased a cheap carbon steel (CS) wok for a mere $10.00. After the wok was seasoned properly, it was used religiously at least once, sometimes twice daily, mostly for quick stir-fry and deep-fried dishes in order to create a natural nonstick coating. Two-three weeks of daily use, a darkened, caramel patina has developed at the bowl and interior walls of the wok. It’s quite beautiful! For wokkers, this is the hallmark of wok cooking: a dark patina ensures nonstick foods, rapid stir-fry with smokey flavors.
As such, I excitedly rolled up my sleeves to create my own version of Beef chow fun with Chinese broccoli and sliced Vidalia onions. The vegetables and aromatics were chopped and ready to go. My slab of grass-fed beef tenderloin was sliced thinly and marinated. I felt like Speedy Gonzalez from Looney Toons, working quite efficiently and effectively with Maria Callas and Alfredo Kraus singing brilliantly to the beautiful duet from La Traviata “Parigi, o cara”. All was right in my world until my hands reached for the fresh rice noodles. These fresh noodles were a real bitch to separate strand by strand once refrigerated overnight. With my patience nearly tapped, I almost resorted to dry noodles but persevered, internally cursing at myself with every strand I separated.
Nonetheless, the hardest task was overcame and I was rightfully rewarded with one of the most delicious beef chow fun I’ve ever tasted. Yes! It was “that” good! The Chinese broccoli were crisp and smokey while the noodles had a slightly nutty, toasty quality, courtesy of high heat cooking. Salty and savory were well-balanced from the seasoning sauce. My 5 yro baby diva (already a noodle snob), cleaned her plate so that was definitely a tell-tale sign my efforts were on-point. This dish will surely be added to our weeknights menu when I could get my hands on fresh noodles. Although, I will delegate the task of noodle separator to one of my eager-beaver kitchen helpers. We all have to pay our dues in the kitchen during our youth, don’t we?
For the sake of curiosity, I might attempt the same recipe with dry noodles next time to determine if a notable difference in flavors exists between the two. In the meantime, here’s my recipe:
1 lb. fresh, flat rice noodle, separated into individual strands
2 cups chinese broccoli, cut into 2” pieces on the bias
¼ cup Vidalia onions, cut into thin strips
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 stalks green onions, cut into 1” spears, white and green parts separated
1 slice ginger smashed (size/thickness of a quarter) – optional
Canola/vegetable oil for cooking
½ lb. beef flank steak or tenderloin, thinly sliced across the grain, into bite pieces
1 tsp Shao Hsing wine
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp granulated sugar
freshly-grind black pepper – 4 turns on peppermill
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp dark soy
2 tbsp light soy
1 tsp granulated sugar
1. Beef Marinade: In medium bowl, add beef, wine, light soy, dark soy, sugar, cornstarch, and black pepper. Mix well. Set aside to marinate for 30 min.
2. Seasoning Sauce: In small bowl, add fish sauce, dark soy, light soy, and sugar. Mix well, set aside.
3. Separate rice noodles into individual strand. If noodles were refrigerated overnight, steam them slightly to soften for easier handling and less breakage. Note: Best to cook them on the same day of purchase. Now I know!
4. Preheat wok on high heat until a whisper of smoke appears inside wok. Add 1 to 2 tbsp of canola oil. Swirl oil around wok to coat evenly. Add white-only part of green onions, minced garlic, smashed ginger. Stir-fry until aromatic (5-10 sec. approx.). Add beef. Spread beef evenly across wok’s bottom and leave undisturbed for 1 minute. This gives beef a chance to caramelize. With a spatula, quickly stir-fry beef, then move beef to one side.
5. Add Vidalia onions and Chinese broccoli. Stir-fry until vegetables are softened and slightly charred on the edges (2-3 min. approx.). Remove and set aside.
6. Add 1 tbsp of canola oil to wok. Add fresh noodles. With a chopstick or spatula, spread noodles evenly, in a single layer and allow them to fry undisturbed (1-2 min. approx.) for a toasty flavor. Then toss the noodles for even browning.
7. Return beef and vegetables to wok with the noodles. Add the pre-mixed seasoning sauce. Stir-fry for another 1-2 to ensure sauce are mixed thoroughly with the ingredients. Toss in the green onion spears. Serve hot.