Beef Chow Mein (牛肉炒面)
“Chow mein” (炒面) means “fried noodles”. This is an authentic recipe is for crispy chow mein, also known as Hong Kong style chow mein, and features fresh egg noodles, which are fried into a cake that softens slightly when topped with a meat and vegetable sauce. You can buy fresh chow mein noodles in the refrigerated section of Asian markets and some grocery stores. Try to find chow mein noodles made with egg- you can use noodles made without egg, but they won’t have the same rich flavor.
- 8 oz fresh thin Chinese egg noodles (also called Hong Kong noodles)
- 1 (1/2-lb) piece flank steak
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine (preferably Shaoxing) or medium-dry Sherry
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
- 3 scallions, cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces (1 cup)
- 5 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps quartered (2 1/2 cups)
- 6 oz choy sum, cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces (2 1/2 cups) or 1-inch-wide broccoli florets
Special equipment: a well-seasoned 14-inch wok (preferably flat-bottomed)
Bring 8 cups unsalted water to a boil in a 6- to 8-quart pot, then add noodles, stirring to separate, and cook 15 seconds. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water until noodles are cool, then shake colander briskly to drain excess water.
Cut steak with the grain into 1 1/2- to 2-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices and put in a medium bowl. Using your hands, toss beef with sugar, sesame oil, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch. Let beef marinate at room temperature while preparing remaining ingredients.
Stir together remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch with 1/4 teaspoon white pepper in a small bowl until smooth, then stir in chicken broth.
Heat wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within 1 to 2 seconds of contact, then add 1/2 cup peanut oil and heat until just smoking. Carefully add noodles all at once, flattening top to form a 9-inch cake. Cook until underside is golden, 4 to 5 minutes, rotating noodle cake with a metal spatula to brown evenly and lifting edges occasionally to check color. Carefully flip noodle cake over with spatula and tongs, then cook, rotating cake, until other side is golden, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer noodle cake to a large paper-towel-lined plate to drain excess oil. Discard any oil remaining in wok and wipe out wok with paper towels.
Transfer drained noodle cake to a platter and loosely cover with foil to keep warm.
Heat wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Pour 1 tablespoon peanut oil down side of wok, then swirl oil, tilting wok to coat sides. Add beef, spreading pieces in 1 layer on bottom and sides as quickly as possible. Cook, undisturbed, letting beef begin to brown, 1 minute, then stir-fry until meat is just browned on all sides but still pink in center, about 1 minute. Transfer meat and any juices to a plate.
Add 1 tablespoon oil to wok over high heat. When oil just begins to smoke, add ginger and garlic and stir-fry 5 seconds, then add scallions and stir-fry 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and stir-fry until softened, about 3 minutes. Add choy sum and stir-fry until leaves are bright green and just wilted, 2 to 3 minutes (if using broccoli, cook until almost crisp-tender). Stir broth mixture, then pour into wok and stir-fry until sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add beef and stir to coat. Return mixture just to a boil, then pour over noodle cake.
Makes 4 servings.
last updated August 17, 2023