Saturday, September 28, 2013

Chow Fun

Once signs of spring appear, the heavy soups and stews of winter lose their appeal to me, and my thoughts move on to lighter brighter fare. I do a great deal of Asian-style cooking at this time of year and my battered old wok, which has been tucked away for most of the winter, is moved to a more prominent and accessible location. I had a taste for Chinese or Thai food today, so, I got online and placed my first order of the year for exotics not locally available, and then walked to the Asian market to explore and poke around at a leisurely pace. When I found blocks of fresh rice dough I knew immediately what our dinner would be. The Silver Fox and I have a weakness for Chow Fun, a Cantonese dish whose name literally means "stir-fry the noodles". The noodles can be difficult to find, so, when they are available I waste no time, and, following the injunction, do indeed, "stir-fry the noodles". Before going any further, I'm going to beg the indulgence of my Asian friends, because my recipe, and what I laughingly call my technique, bear no resemblance to anything they've ever seen in their kitchens. I promise you the dish will be delicious, but it certainly is not authentic, except maybe in an Irish kind of way. For years I had a problem cooking fresh rice noodles. They literally would disappear on me because I followed recipes that had them cook for too long a time and they would disintegrate. I overcame the problem with a technique all my own. Rice dough comes in brick-like packages that are cut into strips or ribbons. The ribbons must be softened before the noodles can be stretched and separated. I've found that microwaving the noodles solves the problem. I use the defrost cycle for 1 minute and the regular cycle for 30 seconds and the combination gives me noodles that can be easily separated and need no further cooking. They go into the wok only to be warmed and seasoned. I use a small amount of pork or chicken in this dish and add snow peas and sprouts for color and texture. This is mildly flavored. If you want your dish to have heat, I suggest you offer hot sauce or chilies at the table. This dish is really easy to make and I know that those of you who try it will be pleased. Here's the Irish version of Chow Fun.

Chow Fun...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite


1-1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup oyster sauce oyster sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 heaping tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or medium-dry Sherry

6 to 8-ounces thinly sliced pork loin or chicken

14 to 16-ounces fresh rice noodles, cut into 3/4-inch-wide strips

1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1/4 lb snow peas, trimmed

4 scallions, cut into 2-inch-long julienne

2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic

2 teaspoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons water

1/2 cup fresh mung bean sprouts

A few drops of Asian sesame oil


1) Stir together 1-1/4 cups stock, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and rice wine.

2) Place sliced meat in a bowl and toss with half of marinade. Set aside.

3) Place noodles in microwave bowl, lightly cover and heat, using defrost cycle, for 1 minute. Then cook for 30 seconds on HIGH power. Separate noodles, then toss with 1 teaspoon oil. Set aside.

3) Heat a wok over high heat until a bead of water dropped onto cooking surface evaporates immediately. Add remaining 1/4 cup oil, swirling wok to coat evenly, and heat until it just begins to smoke. Drain meat and stir-fry until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Add noodles and toss to mix. Add snow peas and scallions and stir-fry until snow peas are bright green and crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Add garlic, and ginger and stir-fry 1 minute longer.

4) Add reserved marinade from step 1 and, stirring, bring to a boil. Add remaining 1/4 cup stock. When mixture boils, stir cornstarch mixture and add to wok, then boil, stirring, until sauce is thickened and noodles are well coated, about 30 seconds. Stir in bean sprouts and remove wok from heat. Season with sesame oil and pepper. Serve immediately. Yield: 2 to 4 servings.

You might also enjoy these recipes:

Orange Chicken with Cashews - My Gourmet Connection

Three Teacup Chicken - Simply Recipes

Sichuan Chicken - CuisinEats

Fried Pork and Crab Spring Rolls - Adora's Box

Dragon Chicken - Expat Recipes

Chinese Hot Pots - A Spicy Perspective

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