A delightful Cantonese noodle dish with stir-fried beef or chicken. Short and sweet and potent list of ingredients, perfectly harmonious. I first fell in love with it when Matt, Chef – Owner of Chop Chop Kosher Chinese Restaurant, recently delivered 2 dinners that starred his NEW creation. And I was the trailblazer, first customer to sample it. No great hardship, I assure you! I invited my son for the occasion, and sure enough, we were swooning.
Why Call it Chow Fun?
Hello Fun is more like it! But hey, what do I know about the Cantonese Language? Cantonese food, ha yes, now that is easier to practice! I loved the suspense in every bite. Don’t laugh, OK? The noodles were flat and squat, like a wad of wrapped gum, with an impossibly spongy, chewy and gelatinous texture. As you dug in, you fell on a flat strip of beef that looked exactly like the noodles. Like camouflage, you know? The dish had mushrooms too, and baby bok choy half the size of my pinkie.
I haven’t achieved yet the gorgeous deep mahogany shade of Matt’s dish above. Mine is a little paler but it’s almost as fantastic. Practice Practice Practice! I am thrilled to offer my own version of the dish. Monochromatic and wonderful. A whole meal in a skillet.
Chow Fun all starts with the right noodles!
Purists like our friend Matt here will make their own rice noodles from scratch. But why do I think there’s a fat chance that you, dear reader, are ever going to do that? Thought so!
So, next best thing: buy the noodles! This is interesting: Thai noodle products do not require a kosher supervision, so knock yourselves out with rice paper sheets and noodles all shapes and sizes. The noodles we want for this dish are very wide noodles. Wider than the noodles used for, say, Pad Thai. But I am sorry to say that I always ordered extra wide noodles, and always received wide noodles. The difference is about half the width. Oh well. Here is another Thai brand that makes extra wide noodles, and these are indeed extra wide as promised, but they are very short. I personally love the dramatic shape of the extra wide noodles, even if I end up with shorter noodles, like square sheets. I am recommending both brands, and you will decide which shape you like best (long and thinner, or extra wide and shorter)
What I love about chow fun is that is doesn’t rely on a pool of sauce for the flavors. The seasonings are absorbed by the noodles, making the noodles a MVP instead of just the carrier.
Getting Beef Ready
It all starts with the perfect beef: this London broil slab is amazing. I let it chill to the point of being partially frozen. In reverse, if you started with frozen, you thaw it partially.
I sliced it very thin (oh boy this would make a spectacular carpaccio), and tossed the slices with baking soda, cornstarch and a few drops mirin. Talk about a natural tenderizer! With this mixture, who needs msg?
I left the slices to tenderize for a good hour (if you dont have a whole hour thats OK too!) then stir fried them in just a little toasted sesame oil. It took just a couple minutes, and it came out butter-soft.
Delicious with Chicken too!
Proceed exactly as for the beef, using boneless white or dark chicken.
For the beef (or chicken)
- 1 London broil or flatiron steak, weighing about 1 1/2 pounds (or boneless dark or white chicken), very well chilled or better yet, even partially frozen for easy slicing
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons mirin or sake
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground star anise
- 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps sliced
- 2 cups thinly sliced nappa cabbage
- 1/4 cup dark soy or tamari sauce (as much as the dish will take without getting over salted)
- Sriracha sauce or other hot pepper to taste (I love Gochu Chong)
- 8 ounces extra wide Thai noodles ( have linked to two brands, either brand is great), soaked in boiling water 5 minutes and drained
- 6 scallions, sliced very thin
- 5-6 sprigs cilantro, tough stems discarded, minced
Make sure the meat or chicken doesn’t come in contact with water. We want to start with very dry slices.
Slice the beef or chicken very thin. Toss the slices thoroughly with the remaining beef or chicken ingredients. Reserve.
Heat up the 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil in a large skillet. Add the ginger, star anise, mushrooms and nappa. Saute on high flame until all moisture evaporates. That will take only 3-4 minutes or so. Add the tamari and hot pepper and toss.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and go on with the rest of the dish.
In the same skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the sliced beef or chicken, separating the strips to expose them thoroughly to the heat. Sauté on a high flame, 3-4 minutes total, always stirring to get the meat uniformly browned on all sides.
Now add everything to the skillet: the reserved mushroom mixture, the noodles, the scallions and cilantro. Mix thoroughly. Serve hot. Makes 4 ample main course servings, or six smaller servings.