Real-Deal Beef Chow Fun (干炒牛河)

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!

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! {Gluten-Free Adaptable}

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.

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! {Gluten-Free Adaptable}

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.

Real-Deal Beef Chow Fun Cooking Process

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.

Real-Deal Beef Chow Fun Cooking Process 2

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! {Gluten-Free Adaptable}

(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.

Real-Deal Beef Chow Fun Ingredients

Want to learn more about stir fry?

Check out my most popular posts below:

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.

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! {Gluten-Free Adaptable}

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.

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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! {Gluten-Free Adaptable}

Real-Deal Beef Chow Fun (干炒牛河)


  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 2 to 3 servings
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Stir frying
  • Cuisine: Chinese

Description

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! {Gluten-Free Adaptable}

To make this dish gluten free, use tamari in place of the soy sauce, and use dry sherry instead of Shaoxing wine.


Ingredients

Marinade

  • 1/2 pound (226 grams) beef skirt, flank, sirloin, or tenderloin
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce (*Footnote 1)
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Sauce

Stir fry

  • (Optional) 1 batch broccolini (or 1 small head broccoli), tough ends removed and chopped into bite sized pieces (*Footnote 2)
  • 7 ounces (200 grams) dried rice noodles
  • 2 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
  • (Optional) 2 teaspoons sesame oil

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. Combine all the sauce ingredients with 2 tablespoons water. Mix well and set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Add the beef back into the skillet. Pour in the mixed sauce. Immediately use a pair of tongs to toss and mix everything.
  9. Add the onion and green onion. Toss a few more times, until the sauce is absorbed by the noodles.
  10. 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.
  11. Serve hot as a main.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 of the 2 servings
  • Calories: 484cal
  • Sugar: 5.2g
  • Sodium: 1007mg
  • Fat: 20.9g
  • Carbohydrates: 45.9g
  • Fiber: 4.8g
  • Protein: 30.4g
  • Cholesterol: 42mg

This post was originally published by Oct. 6, 2014 and updated by Oct. 11, 2017.

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! {Gluten-Free Adaptable}

Disclosure

Omnivore's Cookbook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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Meet Maggie

Hi I’m Maggie Zhu! Welcome to my site about modern Chinese cooking – including street food, family recipes, and restaurant dishes. I take a less labor-intensive approach while maintaining the taste and look of the dish. I am originally from Beijing, and now cook from my Austin, Texas kitchen.

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27 thoughts on “Real-Deal Beef Chow Fun (干炒牛河)

  1. Meggan | Culinary Hill

    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!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      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 🙂

      Reply
      1. Meggan | Culinary Hill

        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!

      2. Maggie Post author

        Glad you both like the music!
        The background music calls “Spring in my Step”. It’s a royalty free music from YouTube. If you have a YouTube account, you can find it by clicking your profile picture, go to “Creator Studio”. It’s under Create/Audio Library. I always use filter to look for “bright” or “happy” songs 🙂
        If you google “royalty free” music, it will come with a lot of good background songs too. Internet is indeed a great pool for all sorts of resources!

  2. Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom

    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!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      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 😛

      Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      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!

      Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      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! 🙂

      Reply
  3. Kelly - Life Made Sweeter

    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 🙂

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      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! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Monica

    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!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      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 🙂

      Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      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! 🙂

      Reply
  5. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    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. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      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.

      Reply
  6. J-Mom

    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!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      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 🙂

      Reply
  7. Charles J Arik

    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?
    Thanks; Charlie

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      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.

      Reply
  8. Silla Armond

    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!

    Reply