May 3, 2015

Hawaii Loves To Eat CHOW FUN!

When Westerners speak of Chinese food, they are usually referring to Cantonese cuisine. When I start craving Chinese food, I usually think of Chow Fun Noodles. You are probably thinking to yourself, what is a Chow Fun Noodle? In the south of China noodle stalls and roadside food stands are popular places to find Chow Fun Noodles being prepared, with each vendor offering a slightly different twist. Sometimes, the distinction comes through the sauce or the additions; other times, it is the cooking style. In its many variations, the dish is one of the most popular street foods of Hong Kong and the Guangzhou region of China. 

Sun brand fresh-cooked Chow Fun Noodles found at 
Friendly Market and Misaki's Grocery Store here on Moloka'i
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Chow Fun Noodles are made from rice flour. They are wide and flat and when cooked have a different mouth feel and texture than wheat flour noodles. The most common methods of cooking these noodles is stir-fry with thick sauces. Personally I love all pasta, in all shapes and textures, but there is something very exotic yet comforting about Chow Fun Noodles. 

Chow Fun Noodles are a Hawaii local favorite, mostly because of the huge Chinese-American population here, and also because it tastes so good. If you are going to Honolulu, and want to try Chow Fun Noodles, here is a list of restaurants from Yelp, that serve it (click here). Otherwise, look for it fresh-cooked in the refrigerated section or your grocery store. If you are craving Chow Fun Noodles on Moloka'i, Friendly Market sells both fresh-cooked and dried Chow Fun Noodles, but you'll have to prepare them yourself because there are no Chinese restaurants here. Just follow these simple recipes:

South of Market, Chow Fun Noodles 
with Portobello Mushrooms & Asparagus
I first had Chow Fun Noodles about 20 years ago in a back-alley Chinese restaurant, south of Market Street, in San Francisco. At first the noodles seemed kind of slimy compared to wheat flour noodles, but the flavor of the sauce and the way everything blended so well, I have been eating Chow Fun Noodles ever since.

South of Market (SoMa) has changed a lot in the past
20 years, but I'm sure they are still serving Chow Fun Noodles
Click on image to view larger
2 large portobello mushrooms
1 bunch asparagus
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 sweet Maui onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
3 tablespoon Tamari sauce, or soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1/2 teaspoon Asian chili sauce, or to taste
3 7-ounce packages fresh-cooked Chow Fun Noodles
2 green onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Cut stems off mushrooms; trim hard end off each stem. With spoon, scrape dark gills from bottom of caps. Halve caps; slice caps and stems crosswise into 1/3-inch thick slices. Set aside.

Remove the tough ends from the asparagus and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces.

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In a wok, heat oil over high heat; stir-fry chopped onion for 2 minutes or until they start to brown. Add garlic; stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add mushrooms; stir-fry until softened, about 2 minutes.

Add rice wine and Tamari sauce; stir-fry until dry. Stir in oyster, hoisin and chili sauces; stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add Chow Fun Noodles and asparagus; stir-fry until coated.

Stir in 1/2 cup water; cover and cook, stirring once, until vegetables are tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Uncover and cook until no liquid remains, about 1 minute. Stir in green onion and sesame oil. Makes 4 servings.

Note: You can add protein to this recipe if you like, things like tofu, thinly sliced beef, pork or chicken.

Stir-fried Chow Fun Noodles 
with Marinaded Shrimp & Pork
Chow Fun is one of the easiest meals to get to the table and has a high comfort factor.

1/2 pound fresh shrimp (shelled)
1/2 pound lean pork (sliced)
3 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup celery, thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, thinly sliced
1 cup string beans, thinly sliced
1 (9-10 oz) package of bean sprouts
1 cup green onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 7-ounce packages fresh-cooked Chow Fun Noodles
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
sesame seeds and cilantro for garnish

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 quarter size piece ginger, minced

Take the fresh-cooked Chow Fun Noodles and gently stir them in warm water for roughly a minute to soften them up, they should separate. Put in strainer and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl; combine marinade ingredients. Marinate shrimp and pork 15 minutes. In a large skillet over medium high heat; cook shrimp and pork in oil for 3-4 minutes until shrimp just turn pink. Add vegetables; stir fry 2-4 minutes until crisp-tender. Add noodles and remaining ingredients. Toss to heat through. Do not overcook vegetables. Arrange the noodles on platter if desired, garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro leaves. Makes 6 servings.

Cantonese Beef Chow Fun
Chow Fun beef stir-fry is a famous Cantonese dish.

1/2 pound beef, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons dark (thick) soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 7-ounce packages of fresh-cooked chow fun rice noodles
3 green onions, cut into 1 1/4-inch lengths
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons light (regular) soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon fermented black beans, smashed or mashed with a knife blade (see note below)
3 cups bean sprouts, rinsed and drained well
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided

Cut the beef with the grain into 2-inch wide strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Transfer to a bowl. Add the cornstarch, dark soy sauce, and sesame oil. Stir or massage to coat the meat well. Set aside.

Take the fresh-cooked Chow Fun Noodles and gently stir them in warm water for roughly a minute to soften them up, they should separate. Put in strainer and set aside. Smack the white sections of the green onion with the flat side of the knife, then put into a small bowl; add the ginger and garlic. Keep the green sections in another bowl to add separately.

In a small bowl, stir together the white pepper, sugar, soy sauce, rice wine, oyster sauce, and water. Put this seasoning liquid near the stove with all the other ingredients.

Heat a large wok or nonstick skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes in 1 to 2 seconds. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of oil, then add the ginger, garlic, and crushed sections of green onion. Stir-fry for 15 seconds, until aromatic, then bank on the side. Add the beef, spreading it out into a flat layer. Sear, undisturbed, for 1 minute. Add the black beans, then stir-fry the beef for 30 seconds, until barely cooked through. Transfer to a plate. Rinse and dry the pan well.

Reheat the pan over high heat, swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, then add the noodles, spreading them out to a thick layer. Sear, undisturbed for 1 minute, until a tad crusty. Dump in the bean sprouts, then vigorously stir-fry for 1 minute, until the sprouts have slightly softened. Some noodles may stick to the pan.

Return the beef and any juices and add the remaining green onion sections. Stir to combine, then pour in the seasoning liquid. Stir-fry for 1 minute to heat through and finish cooking the beef. Pile onto a platter and serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

Note: Fermented Black Beans were used in many parts of China but nowadays, it's a staple in southern Chinese kitchens. It can be purchased in Chinese and Southeast Asian markets, usually in the dried, pickled, and preserved vegetables aisle where mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and dried tofu are stocked. Try to find the Yang Jiang brand. If you live on Moloka'i, both Friendly Market and Misaki's have them.

Cantonese Roast Duck
You can use this simple recipe the next time you have a craving for Roast Duck, then save 2 cups of the meat for the recipe below "Chinatown Roast Duck with Chow Fun Noodles & Vegetables".

Another one of my favorite recipes for duck...
"Honey Glazed Roast Duck", click here for recipe
Click on image to view larger
1 whole frozen duck, excess fat trimmed, giblets removed (Misaki's Grocery Store on Moloka'i)
1/4 cup miso
1 cup honey
2 cups soy sauce
1 cup cold black coffee
1/4 cup ginger, minced
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 orange, halved
1 lemon, halved
1 lime, halved

Thaw duck for about 3 days in the refrigerator if frozen, then wash and dry with paper towels. Using a fork, pierce the duck skin all over to allow the flavor of the marinade to penetrate and the fat to drain.

Prepare the marinade. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl except for the citrus. Stir well until miso and sugar are dissolved. Squeeze the citrus juice into the marinade then stuff the cavity of the duck with the citrus halves. Marinate the duck in the bowl or large heavy plastic bag, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours, turning several times in the marinade.

When ready to roast the next day, preheat oven to 450ºF. Place the duck on a rack in a roasting pan. Fold the wings back and tie the legs together. Roast the duck for 20 minutes to caramelize the sugar and set a rich, mahogany color. After 20 minutes, drop the temperature to 325ºF and roast for another 45 minutes to an hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 165˚, when your meat thermometer is stuck in the middle of the breast meat. Makes 4 servings.

Cantonese Roast Duck
with Chow Fun Noodles & Vegetables
So now that you have roasted your own duck, Cantonese-style, you have lots of duck to work with in this recipe. Save the rest of the duck to snack on or use in another recipe.

3 7-ounce packages fresh-cooked Chow Fun Noodles
8 dried Shiitake mushrooms soaked in water for 30 minutes, then cut them into thin strips
1/3 cup Japanese hijiki (dried black looking seaweed, soak in water to rehydrate for 30 minutes)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced, depending on your taste for garlic
1 piece(s) thumb-sized piece ginger, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
a pinch of sugar and black pepper
1⁄2 cup thinly sliced carrots
1⁄2 cup thinly sliced onions
1/2 cup each, broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 cup zucchini, cut into bite size pieces
1 small can sliced water chestnuts, drained
2 cups cooked Cantonese roasted (boneless) duck, cut into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Take the fresh-cooked Chow Fun Noodles and gently stir them in warm water for roughly a minute to soften them up, they should separate. Put in strainer and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a high-sided skillet or wok, then sauté the garlic and ginger (do not burn) for about 1-2 minutes in the oil. Add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and pepper, mix until well blended.

Add the veggies and drained water chestnuts and stir-fry until just cooked, about 4 minutes. Add the noodles and cooked duck, heat through for about 1 minute. Drizzle with sesame oil and then toss in the hijiki at the end. Makes 4 servings.

Chicken Chow Fun with Baby Bok Choy
1 pound chicken, cut into thin bite-sized pieces
3 7-ounce packages of fresh-cooked Chow Fun Noodles
1 pound of baby bok choy, washed (Kumu Farms, or Farmer's Market on Moloka'i)
1/2 pound of bean sprouts, washed
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
6 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
2 tablespoons sweet cooking rice wine (Mirin Japanese cooking wine)
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
black pepper to taste
scallions (green onions), cut into 1 inch strips.

Place the cut chicken in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of the rice wine. Let it marinate while you deal with the noodles.

Take the fresh-cooked Chow Fun Noodles and gently stir them in warm water for roughly a minute to soften them up, they should separate. Put in strainer and set aside.

If your baby bok choy stalks are bulky, you can cut them lengthwise, in half. Otherwise, you can leave them as is.

Heat a pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of canola oil. Toss in the marinated chicken, as well as any leftover marinade. Cook until the chicken is lightly brown on both sides.
Sprinkle the chicken with black pepper, remove the chicken from the pan, leaving the sauce, and set it aside.

Toss the bean sprouts into the pan and stir fry for roughly a minute. Remove the bean sprouts, leaving the sauce, and set them aside.

Toss in the baby bok choy into the pan. Add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Toss in the separated noodles into the pan. Add 4 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of the chili garlic sauce into the pan.

Stir the baby bok choy and the noodles until they are coated somewhat evenly with the soy sauce.
Toss in the scallions, bean sprouts, and the chicken. Continue to stir fry for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how much “char” you want on your noodles. Sprinkle with black pepper and serve hot! Makes 4 servings.

To see other stir-fry recipes click here, or go to the "recipe index" tab at the top of this page.

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