I used to visit Hong Kong very often, almost every two months. And each time I’ll make sure to visit the local Char Chan Teng (茶餐厅) and have my favourite beef chow fun (干炒牛河) for dinner or supper. A Hong Kong Char Chan Teng is a local eatery serving typical Hong Kong staples such as the silky socks milk tea (丝袜奶茶), pineapple bread (菠萝包), egg tarts (蛋挞), beef brisket noodles (牛腩面), roast goose (烧鹅), rickshaw noodles (车仔面), and of course the very popular beef chow fun (干炒牛河).
In Singapore, this dish is also a popular one found in most Zi Char (煮炒 meaning cook and stir fry) stalls and we called it dry beef hor fun. The dish features tender and succulent beef slices, with charred fried rice noodles coated with black savoury sauce and cheap vegetables such as spring onion and bean sprouts. I love eating it with picked green chillies, although in Hong Kong, people eat it with the Hong Kong styled chilli paste which is salty.
Some tips in making Beef Chow Fun
- In commercial restaurants where heavy duty stove tops are used, it’s easy to create the charred ‘wok hey’ (meaning the breath of the wok) that gives this dish the signature flavour. However at home this is hardly achievable, our homes are usually fitted with smaller stoves and induction cooker, unless you have an outdoor kitchen with a heavy duty stove top. Thus to create the ‘wok hey’, we can try to use the highest possible heat till the wok or pan starts to smoke. To manage your expectation, your beef chow fun might not have the same charred flavour you had in your favourite Chinese restaurant.
- Buy a piece of good quality beef flank. Freeze it for a while until it’s slightly firm, so that it’s easier to slice it to a quarter inch thickness. Marinate the beef for at least 30-45 minutes in room temperature before frying it.
- Adding corn starch and baking soda to the beef helps me it tender and succulent after cooking. So do not skip adding these.
- The cooking process is rather quick, so it’s advisable to mix all your seasoning, cut and wash all the vegetables, set the hor fun ready. Basically get all the ingredients near the stove within arm’s length when you start cooking.
- In Singapore, fresh flat rice noodles is available in wet markets and supermarkets. We even have a choice in the width of the noodles. I especially love the 2-inch wide ones. If you can’t get fresh rice noodles, you can also use dehydrated ones. Just make sure you hydrate it according to the packaging instructions before stir frying it.
Watch how to cook Beef Chow Fun on YouTube
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Beef Chow Fun 干炒牛河 (Dry Beef Hor Fun)
- 220 g beef flank partially freeze until slightly firm
- 70 g bean sprouts washed
- ½ small white onion
- 3 stalks spring onion washed
- 450 g hor fun (flat rice noodles)
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
Seasoning for the rice noodles:
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1.5 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
Seasoning for the beef:
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce
- ½ tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp Chinese cooking wine
- ½ tsp sesame oil
- Partially freeze 220g beef flank until slightly firm. Slice the beef into 1/4-inch thickness against the grain of the meat. Marinate the sliced beef with all the seasoning for the beef, for 30-45 minutes in room temperature.220 g beef flank, 1 tbsp corn starch, 1 tbsp oyster sauce, 1 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tsp dark soy sauce, 1/2 tsp white pepper, 1 tsp Chinese cooking wine, 1/2 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp baking soda
- Prepare the vegetables: Peel and slice the white onion. Wash the bean sprouts. Wash and cut the spring onion into 5-cm lengths, removing the root.70 g bean sprouts, 1/2 small white onion, 3 stalks spring onion
- Mix the seasoning for the rice noodles.1.5 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp oyster sauce, 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- Separate hor fun (flat rice noodles) as they tend to stick together.Note: if you are using dehydrated rice noodles, follow the packaging instructions to hydrate them before stir frying.450 g hor fun (flat rice noodles)
- Heat up a wok or heavy based pan over high heat. Then add 2 tbsp of cooking oil.Add the marinated beef slices and fry for about 1-2 minutes until 80% cooked. Then remove from the pan and set aside.2 tbsp cooking oil
- Using the wok or pan, add 1 tbsp sesame oil and warm up over high heat. Sauté the onion until caramelised.1 tbsp sesame oil
- Add 450g hor fun and the seasoning for the rice noodles. Use a pair of chopsticks or spatula to toss until the hor fun is evenly coated with the seasoning, and is slightly charred.Note: be careful not to break the hor fun during the tossing as it's rather fragile.
- Add the cooked beef, bean sprouts, spring onions to the hor fun.
- Stir fry gently (be careful not to break the hor fun) and mix well. Once the beef is fully cooked and the spring onion wilted slightly, it's ready to turn off the heat.
- Serve immediately with condiments such as chilli sauce, red chillies or green chillies (my favourite).