This beef chow fun is loaded with fat noodles, tender steak, and crisp veggies. Even better, now you can cook restaurant-style fried noodles in your home kitchen with a flat skillet!
If you look at any authentic beef chow fun recipe, it always calls for a wok and a gas range. After all, it is the proper way to get perfect seared steak and charred noodles, like you’d get in a restaurant. However, this setup might not be practical for every home cook. As a personal example, I live in an apartment that only has an electric stove, and it never generates heat fast enough for wok cooking.
That’s why I’ve spent a lot of time researching and mastering how to cook stir fries with a flat nonstick skillet. I’ve even written posts on why I do not recommend a wok for beginners, and how to choose between a wok and a skillet for your stir fry station.
After many experiments, I’ve concluded that you can make a legit stir fry without a wok, with a few tricks and a great stir fry sauce.
Best beef chow fun in a skillet
Here are the keys to making a great beef chow fun without a wok:
(1) Plenty of fresh aromatics to add depth of flavor
Dry spice powders just won’t cut it for stir fry, so please always use fresh aromatics.
In this recipe we use fresh garlic, ginger, and plenty of green onion.
(2) Make a good stir fry sauce using the right ingredients
Namely, you need light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and a good wine.
The light soy sauce will add saltiness and umami to the dish, while the dark soy sauce adds that beautiful dark brown color to give the noodles an appealing look. Shaoxing wine (the unsalted type) is always the first choice to add a rich aroma, but you can get very good results using dry sherry, as well.
(3) Prepare a large skillet with a pair of tongs
If possible, pick a heavy nonstick skillet for your beef chow fun and every other stir fry you cook. We are not using a wok here, but high heat is still a crucial factor to creating a great dish. The reason we need a large heavy skillet is that it will heat up faster on an electric range due to its large contact surface. And a heavier pan always holds heat better, so the pan temperature won’t drop the second you add in the sauce; such a drop would cause all your ingredients to be steamed instead of seared.
A pair of tongs is a must-have for tossing noodles, so you don’t end up splashing half of the ingredients onto your kitchen counter.
More cooking notes
(1) How to create juicy tender beef with a perfectly seared surface
First, always cut against the grain. It is OK to slice the beef thinly, such as 1/8-inch thick pieces. Or you can cut it into 1/4-inch thick strips. Your call.
Second, always marinate the beef and use some cornstarch in your marinade. Not only will it make your beef extra flavorful, but it will also tenderize the meat and protect it from overcooking. It’s an ancient Chinese cooking hack that I use even when searing meat for pasta or any other Western dish.
If you follow these two steps, you can choose almost any cut of the steak and still produce great results. However, my favorite choice is always flank or skirt steak, which are cheaper in price, yet well-marbled.
(2) When it comes to fried noodles, less is more
Just like with pizza toppings, using fewer ingredients will yield better results because the ingredients won’t crowd your pan and transform the noodles into a stew.
(3) How to replace ingredients
Beef chow fun is a very versatile dish and you can tweak it with whatever ingredients you have at home. For example, feel free to replace the broccoli with gai lan (Chinese broccoli), kale, or bok choy. You can skip the bean sprouts and use a bit more white onion for texture. As a rule of thumb, you want to use some crisp, crunchy veggies to enhance the texture of the dish.
(3) How to prepare rice noodles for chow fun
Each brand comes with its own cooking instructions, so the best approach is to follow the steps on the back of the package. No matter whether it says to boil or soak the noodles, you want the noodles to reach al-dente. That is, cooked noodles with a slightly chewy texture. So the noodles will be perfectly cooked once they’ve been stir fried.
I also drizzle a bit of oil onto the pre-boiled noodles and toss them with my hand. It is a good way to prevent them from sticking.
(4) What your kitchen counter should look like before the stir frying starts
Near your stove, you should have:
- Marinated beef in a bowl
- Mixed sauce
- Chopped ginger and garlic in a bowl
- Pre-boiled noodles
- Green onion and white onion in a bowl
- Bean sprouts and blanched broccoli on a plate
Note, I grouped some ingredients together because you will add them at the same point in the stir fry. It makes the workflow easier, plus you’ll have fewer plates to wash.
Want to learn more about stir fry?
Check out my most popular posts below:
- 7 Best Chinese Stir Fry Sauce Recipes
- How to Make Stir Fry in 15 Minutes with Minimum Prep
- Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce
- General Tso Tofu (Crispy Tofu without Deep Frying)
- Sweet and Sour Chicken (Without Deep-Frying)
I created this short video for you, so you can easily get an idea of the workflow. The video is slightly different from the recipe below because I updated the recipe with a few small tweaks… But the cooking process is the same.
Are you ready to cook some noodles?
Happy cooking and I hope your dish turns out great!
If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.
Real-Deal Beef Chow Fun (干炒牛河)
- 1/2 pound (226 grams) beef flank , skirt, sirloin, or tenderloin
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce (*Footnote 1)
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 batch broccolini (or 1 small head broccoli) , tough ends removed and chopped into bite sized pieces (*Footnote 2) (Optional)
- 7 ounces (200 grams) wide dried rice noodles
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1/4 white onion , sliced
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 4 green onions , chopped
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil (Optional)
- Slice beef against the grain into 1/8-inch (1/3-cm) thick pieces or 1/4-inch (1/2-cm) strips, and transfer the pieces to a small bowl. Add the light soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and cornstarch. Use your hand to gently mix the beef and the added ingredients, until the beef is coated with a thin layer of the mixture. Let marinate for 15 minutes while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
- Combine all the sauce ingredients with 2 tablespoons water. Mix well and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the broccolini (or broccoli) until tender, 1 minute or so. Drain and set aside. Reserve the boiling water to cook the noodles.
- Cook or soak the rice noodles according to the instructions until cooked through, but still a bit chewy inside. Rinse rice noodles with cold water and drain. To avoid sticky rice noodles during stir fry, add 1 teaspoon sesame oil to the drained noodles. Gently toss noodles by hand to separate and evenly coat them with a thin layer of oil.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until hot. Spread the beef slices in the skillet in a single layer. Cook until the bottom side of the beef turns golden brown, about 1 minute. Flip the beef and cook the other side until browned, but the inside is still a bit pink, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer beef to a plate immediately.
- In the same skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and turn to medium heat. Add garlic, ginger, and onion. Stir constantly until you can smell a strong fragrance, 15 seconds.
- Toss the cooked noodles again and add them into the skillet. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil onto the noodles. Use a pair of tongs to toss the noodles with oil. If the noodles start to get sticky, swirl in 2 tablespoons water.
- Add the beef back into the skillet. Pour in the mixed sauce. Immediately use a pair of tongs to toss and mix everything.
- Add the green onion. Toss a few more times, until the sauce is absorbed by the noodles.
- Add bean sprouts and cooked broccolini back into the skillet, swirl in the sesame oil (if using), and give it a final toss. Turn off heat and transfer everything to serving plates immediately.
- Serve hot as a main.
- You can use regular soy sauce to replace all the light / dark soy sauce in this recipe. Note that the dish will come out with a lighter color if you do so.
- Restaurant-style beef chow fun usually does not contain this ingredient. However I prefer to add more veggies into my noodles to make it a complete meal.
This post was originally published by Oct. 6, 2014 and updated by Oct. 11, 2017.
Questions and Reviews
Beef Chow Fun is one of my favorite dishes to order out! It’s so good, and of course I was oblivious to how tricky it might be to cook. 🙂 Once again you make authentic cuisine accessible to the masses. Thank you for sharing your expertise! I always learn something when I stop by your blog!
Thanks Meggan! Yes, beef chow fun is quite difficult to cook at home and I failed so many times! I’m glad my own experience is helpful 🙂
I really enjoyed your YouTube video too! Random unrelated question… what is the song that you have playing in the background? If you are allowed to disclose, and want to. I only ask because my toddler was totally jamming out to it while we watched you cook. 🙂 How do you find music like that for your videos? So professional!
Maggie!!! OH MY GAWD! I am making beef chow fun today because my friend posted a photo on Facebook and made me hungry!! 😛 love the video. . I also have a ceramic knife! this looks sooooo good!!! Beef Chow Fun is one of my fave Chinese food dishes. love learning about how chefs prepare it in restaurant kitchens! Cool fact! love this!
Love using my ceramic knife! It’s so sharp and could cut vegetables easily and without smash them.
Glad you like this one. I can never cook like the chef in Chinese restaurant… Really need a lot of workouts until I can hold wok by one hand 😛
Beef chow fun is my husband’s favorite Chinese dish! I love it too! But I never try making it at home. For some reason, I found this dish intimidating. Thank you for all those clear tips. I know I have to try this very soon!
This dish is indeed intimidating! Rice noodles are quite delicate and it’s so easy to overcook or under-cook them. Restaurant chef uses great amount of oil to make the noodles tasty and not sticky, but I really don’t want that much oil in homemade dish. Let me know if you tried it out!
I loved your video. How helpful. I don’t consider myself ignorant of Chinese (or Asian) cooking, I know I have so much more to learn. I will be checking out your youtube channel. Thank you so much!!!!
Hi Michelle, I’m glad you like my video! It’s a new thing I started to try out a few months ago, and I often doubt about whether it’s useful. If it could help you with Chinese cooking, even just a bit help, I will feel the time was well spent! 🙂
We LOVE beef chow fun and yours looks absolutely mouthwatering, Maggie! Every time I make it at home I always feel like it is never quite the same as what we get in the restaurant – I guess because we don’t have a gas oven hehe. Thanks so much for the great tips – yours looks perfect and definitely restaurant quality so I’m so excited to try it 🙂
I totally agree that home cooking chow fun is always different from the one in the restaurant. The gas oven they use is ridiculously huge and you have no idea how much oil they pour on the noodles. I don’t feel like to use too much oil in the dish, so I’m afraid the noodles are still not as moist as in the restaurant. Let me know how it goes if you tried it out! 🙂
Oh yeah – this is one of our all-time favorite dishes (we like it dry like this or the kind with sauce). You did an amazing job getting that authentic char on the meat and it just looks so appetizing. Thanks for the excellent tips!
Thanks Monica! If you marinate the beef with soy sauce before cooking, you could get the char easily during stir fry.
Have a great weekend 🙂
This looks better than takeout! I’ve never ordered Beef Chow Fun but it looks like something I would love!! Pinned!
Thanks for sharing Michelle! For this dish, the freshly cooked one will taste better. So I’d suggest to try it out at a restaurant instead of ordering takeout. But no matter either way, hope you’ll enjoy it! 🙂
This dish and the video look so good.
So well done! 🙂
Thanks Aysegul! Have a week ahead! 🙂
Look so good! It’s a busy Monday for us, and this would be a perfect meal. I should stop by an Asian market to buy the chinese broccoli so I can make this! Love the tutorial video too! Very easy to follow. 🙂
Thanks Nami! The noodles stir-fry is a great choice for a busy week day’s dinner. Hope you enjoy the cooking 🙂
Can this dish be made Whole Plant Based Style?
Pretty sure it’s possible. For example, use tofu to replace the beef and use vegetarian oyster sauce. I’ll try to develop this recipe and keep you updated.
Life saver! I did this tonight. Didn’t take much time and was able to get food on table in time. I used broccolini since I cannot get Chinese broccoli. But it tasted great. The bitterness that bothered me with a different recipe didn’t register. Thank you for the recipe!
You’re the most welcome and glad to hear the dish turns out great! I love using broccolini in my stir fried noodles too. Fried noodles is one of my favorite ways to get dinner onto the table. So fast and delicious 🙂
Great great recipe! One thing though,I don’t know where you live but where I live flank and skirt steak are some of the most expensive cuts you can buy, what else would work?
Hi Charles, wow, I didn’t know that flank and skirt steak can be super expensive. In general, any well-marbled beef is more suitable for stir-fries, because it generates tenderer meat. Could you find cheaper tri tip or sirloin? If not, just try with any cut that is not for braising. As long as you slice against the grain and marinate the beef, even some lean cut can generate pretty decent result.
Hi and thanks for all these wonderful suggestions. The one thing I really want to do with the fun is to get the wonderful charred smokey and crunchy flavor (you mention this, I forget the term — it is the wok flavor that comes from the wok itself) . My favorite Chinese restaurant for this was Hong Min’s (closed) in Chicago. The chef was masterful! We would always get a layer of beautifully crunchy noodles at the bottom of the plate. For that pleasure, I don’t care how much oil! But it was never greasy, just very flavorful, brown and crispy. Do you ever recommend cookware? I want to buy a heavy non stick skillet that will hold heat and begin to experiment with this dish. I do not want anything with a toxic coating. I too have an electric range, the bane of my existence!
Thanks for this post, you have a new follower!
I absolutely love beef chow fun! I followed the recipe, and found the beef tasty and the sauce was good. However, I feel like the addition of ginger completely ruined it when I added everything together. I had even doubled the beef, sauce and noodles to make a larger batch, but left the ginger amount the same. It was still too much. I found that ginger was not an ingredient in many other chow fun recipes I perused after my failed dish. If I try this recipe again, I’m going to omit the ginger altogether.
Thanks Maggie! I like all of your recipes . I like home made sauce the most.
Thanks again and Happy New Year!!!
Thanks so much for leaving a comment and I’m glad to hear you like recipes! Happy New Year 2018! 🙂
What kind of rice noodles did you use? I love how wide they are!
Hi Carrisa, I’m afraid I don’t have a brand name right now. Usually I just go to an Asian market and pick the widest rice noodle I can find. They usually turn out pretty well 🙂
Hi. Just discovered your blog via my wife and I love it! I tried printing the Bef Chow Fun with Chinese Broccoli recipe but it said the page was not found.
Also, since we are allergic to corn, we use arrow root to thicken sauces. Do you know if arrow root has the same tenderizing effect on meat?
Hi Craig, thanks so much for letting me know that the recipe print button is not working. I just asked my tech support to look into it and hopefully I can fix it.
As for the sauce thicken agent, I’m pretty sure that arrowroot works. Happy cooking and hope your dish turns out great!
I’ve always used cornstarch on my beef before stir frying, but never actually knew why! I’m glad I know now 🙂 I’m lucky enough to have a wok and a good gas stove, but have been known to crowd my pan! I really have to work on that. I love that you list out what ingredients to have ready on the counter before cooking. Makes it so easy to keep organized. Oh yeah, and of course the recipe sounds delicious! Chow fun is just sooooo good.
Hi there, I made this last night, and it turned out great! Will be using this recipe again.
Looked at other versions, and I liked yours best because: a) I alternate between wok and non-wok due to travel and being in different kitchens, b) I loved the thoughtful planning and explanation of why and wherefore regarding ingredients and equipment, c) it had everything I was looking for. I don’t use the ginger, though.
It’s authentic also. It replicates what I have in restaurants, and it taught me I can do it myself. TY! 😀
can’t wait to try another one of your recipes (your egg foo young recipe really elevated our dish!) Do you think this will work with shiratake noodles?
I’m really into this dish! Although when I made it, I didn’t use the wine. It turned out so flavorful and delicious!
– Natalie Ellis
Now you are sending me the good stuff. No sea food. Thank you so much. I can’t wait to try these.
Great recipe – delicious and practical! (More generally – this is becoming my go to site for both authentic and more practical Chinese recipes — I really like your approach to cooking)
Hi Maggie Zhu,
I just subscribed to your website. I would like your cookbook, however, I don’t want the e-book, I want an actual cookbook, please tell me how to order one.
Thank you for the thorough directions as well as beautiful pictures. I love your recipes!
This is my husband’s favorite dish and now I can cook this for him at home.
I came across your site by looking for a recipe for cold tofu noodles salad that they serve more often with dim sum. Not many recipes out there. The salad served at restaurants tastes a little garlicky, salty and maybe some vinegar? Such a healthy salad but not to many recipes out there. Also, the restaurant tofu noodles are soft and tender. I also am looking for the sauce that goes over the cold tofu salad with thousand year old eggs. Is it oyster sauce soy soy sauce and sugar? I love your site and the details you give in making the sauces which make the dish.
Hi Carolyn, I think this is the tofu noodles salad recipe you’re looking for: http://omnivorescookbook.com/sliced-tofu-salad/
I do have a tofu with century egg recipe: https://omnivorescookbook.com/tofu-with-century-egg-salad/
I used a very simple sauce in this recipe, just a few drops of light soy sauce and sesame oil. But I do think some restaurants use a sauce that has a hint of sour and sweet. I think you can try using one part of light soy sauce and one party of Chinkiang vinegar, with a pinch of sugar and drizzle of sesame oil. That should work great in this dish 🙂
Let me know if you have further questions and happy cooking!
Maggie, thanks for nice beef recipe. My husband likes beef so much, but my ideas how to cook are finished already, I took it in my recipes book)
I made your recipe for Real Deal Beef Chow Yum! YUM is correct it was delicious. Can’t wait to make it again. Thank you for the recipe, it definitely is a keeper.
Made this tonight, my first attempt from your website. I did everything as described (including the sesame oil at the end: wow!), though we couldn’t find salt-free Shaoxing wine; I got the lowest salt content one I could find, and will probably order salt-free from somewhere in the future. It came out superb. My wife was shocked at how little oil was in it, and our super-picky kid ate it. That’s something.
Great recipe. However, the steps call for a total of 3 tablespoons of oil, but the ingredients only list two. Also, you mention to add onion in twice .
Thanks for letting me know Matt! I just updated the recipe and fixed the errors.
This recipe is BANG on…….this meal’s my ABSOLUTE favourite and the instructions are superb.
Hi I wish I could give more than 5 stars! I tried this recipe the other night and couldn’t believe how nice it tasted. I have never cooked meat like this and have missed out! I have been over-cooking it all these years! Thank you for your instructions. I am really enjoying your website and trying all the different recipes.
I often go to your site to read a new recipe, thanks for teaching me how to cook delicious and healthy food.
Hi. Just discovered your blog via my wife and I love it! I tried printing the Bef Chow Fun with Chinese Broccoli recipe but it said the page was not found.
This dish made me sweat, but I tried to do everything strictly according to the recipe, I used Chinese broccoli as you advised. I really liked it, although it was not easy, thanks for the recipe!
I love to cook and always looking for new interesting dishes, such as those served in the restaurant. Koneno, I made Beaw chow fun according to your recipe, and received many compliments from my relatives! Now this is one of our favorites, thank you!
This is my go-to recipe for beef chow fun! 🙂
A couple years ago I came to your website and chose this recipe because you mentioned the possibility of preparing without a wok and a crazy hot flame. That’s pretty much my situation everywhere I go, as I travel continuously so have additional challenges that many would not: Different kitchen, different equipment, different (or missing) ingredients and different conditions every time I make it. Sometimes I have dried noodles; sometimes the fresh/oiled ones from Asian markets. Sometimes they’re thin because I cannot find flat wide. I’ve managed somehow, and I want to thank you for your encouragement and notes.
The only tweaks I’ve made to this recipe are: a) I start with onions and go to noodles, then add garlic when the noodles look like they’re “fried.” Onions and garlic cook and are ready at quite different times, and the garlic has time enough to cook between then and the end. b) I add the sauce as the final step before mixing and serving. Why? Because once the sauce is added, everything begins to stick to the pan. And the sauce doesn’t need to be cooked. It’s flavoring and coloring and already done.
This was great! I feel so accomplished. Thanks Maggie!
This came out well.
Thank you Maggie.
Thank you for posting this recipe.
Can I replace beef with any other meat.
Yes! You can replace it with any other type of proteins (chicken, pork, shrimp etc).
The best ever recipe available for non-professional cooks! I tried it so many times and it worked every time! My son loves the dish! Thank you for sharing with us, exceptional talent and creativity!
Made this tonight. Was great other than I over cooked the noodles. I like mine really saucy so i would have made more sauce. But it was delicious will tweak and try again later
This recipe was delicious!! I used tofu instead of beef because it’s what we had. For my first attempt I was very proud – I’ve never cooked with shaoxing wine before and it was a GAME CHANGER. Very worthwhile finding it if thinking of making it without.
I’m making it for the second time this month because it’s an easy (with your help!) and delicious meal. This time I’m going to marinade the tofu longer and soak the rice noodles for longer too. Thanks so much! I made your instant pot chicken congee last night (comfort in a bowl), and am looking forward to trying more recipes!
Hi Maggie. Making this tonight. The only bean sprouts I’ve been able to find are the canned ones. Would you use canned ones or just add more onions and green onions?
Sorry I didn’t get back to you on time. The canned ones are fine but they requires less cooking time and might tastes a bit soggy.
It’s OK to skip it all together but adding some more onions will work as well. Hope your dish turned out well nonetheless.
Hi – dish looks great.However, I am a cooking instructor in the Boston area, teach many cuisines. Your dish has way too much sodium – you could lessen the salty condiments (soy sauce etc – substitute 1 tbls low sodium broth, for eg. You mentioned salt free cooking wine – not available in the US, as you noted. Also, your way of cutting the garlic looks a bit dangerous, esp for novices – there is a much easier, simpler way. Just thought I’d add my thoughts
Q:what is the difference in using cornstarch and topiac? Why is sometimes used in stir fry and why most of time niy? Thank you
They both can be used with water to create a slurry to thicken sauce. Tapioca flour is used in some dim sum recipes because it will make a dough that’s a bit bouncy (which cornstarch cannot achieve). But for stir fries, they behave quite similar.
Thank you, this is a favourite dish – well done. To help tenderise cheaper beef cuts, I usually blanche (velvet) the marinated beef slices, before they go in the wok.
Just had this for dinner along with some steamed pork hash. This was absolutely the bomb. I’ve made chow fun before but nothing that comes close to being as good as this. If you been to Hawaii before you probably came across our version of chow fun usually found at any Okazuya made with look fun and marinated pork or spam. That’s history since I tried your recipe. Thank you so much Maggie. You’re a gem!
Made it last night. This is an awesome recipe.
Loved this meal
I can’t wait to try this – it’s looks delicious! Thank you so much for creating a video to accompany the recipe…your knife skills are amazing!
I love this recipe! But I have a question. I have a big beautiful bag of very wide dry noodles with no directions. Should I pour boiling water over them? How long should I soak them? TIA
For the wide dry noodles, soaking them in boiling water should work the best. It should take anywhere between 40 minutes to 1 hour depending on the noodles.
If the noodles are still a bit tough when you cook with them, you can always pour in water during the stir fry to quickly cook them through.
I love your recipes and the way you explain . I will definitely try making your way.
This recipe creates a delightful dish with perfectly balanced flavors. Thank you for using dry rice noodles – nearly all recipes call for fresh without giving an idea of how much dry noodle to substitute. And I followed your lead, adding asparagus for a more balanced dish as that is what I had. It worked great!
Day #1 of the 5-Day Crash Course never arrived. I’ve check my inbox, my junk folder, and my trash folder, and it is in none of those places. I would appreciate it if you could send the first day’s mailing to me.
I can only find salted Shaoxing wine. Is it the same as the Shaoxing you call for in your recipes?
The salted version is totally fine!