Some times in life you’re just haunted by glorious ghosts of noodles-past and beef hor fun has haunted me more than most. These luscious noodles truly rate as one of my all time childhood favourites. That said, even in Noodle Nirvana of Penang a good beef hor fun is hard to come by, but when you do find a place that does it right you’ll be hooked!
There are two vital components to the success of this dish: super tender beef and silky soft noodles. After trawling the internet I discovered the secret to the tender beef, but I just couldn’t source fresh noodles in Cape Town. Undeterred and determined to feed my hor fun cravings, I tried for many years to replicate this dish with dried flat rice noodles but it was always well short of the mark. That’s until I chanced upon this particular brand of dried noodles at the Mun Fong Chinese Supermarket in Goodwood. Don’t ask me what they are called, my Mandarin is non-existent – all I know is that they’re the closet I’ve come to finding the texture of fresh rice noodles in their dried form. Buy them, buy a lot of them.
Anyway, armed with my eureka-noodles I once again attempted to make my version of Beef Hor Fun and I can safely say that I can put this particular ghost of noodles past to rest. Enjoy.
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BEEF HOR FUN
- 150g beef (preferably fillet but sirloin will be fine), trimmed of fat and sliced thinly against the grain
- 350g flat rice noodles (definitely use fresh if available or the best dried that you can source)
- 1 tbsp. light soya sauce mixed with 1 tbsp. water
- 100g Chinese greens (preferably gai lan but bok choy will do at a push)
- A handful of bean sprouts
- 1 spring onion, sliced on the diagonal at 3cm lengths
- 4 slices of peeled ginger
- A dash of sesame oil
- Ground white pepper
- 1 tsp. of ginger juice (I use a micro-grater, squeeze out the juice and discard the pulp)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. white sugar
- 1/2 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp. plain cooking oil
- 2 tsp. corn flour
- 6 tbsp. water
- 1/2 tsp. light soya sauce
- 1/2 tsp. oyster sauce
- 1 tsp. dark soya sauce
- 1/4 tsp. white sugar
- 1/2 tsp. chicken stock granules
30 minutes before cooking
- Combine all the marinate ingredients (except the oil) – mix well and then add the oil. Mix again. Add the beef and allow to marinate for 30 minutes.
- Combine the sauce ingredients by putting the corn flour in a small bowl. Add the water to the corn flour and mix well (you don’t want lumps – adding the water to the corn flour helps avoid these). Add the rest of the ingredients, mix well and put to one side till needed.
- Prepare your Chinese greens by cutting them into the desired lengths – if you’re using gai lan (Chinese broccoli) cut them into lengths of 3cm (if the ends are very thick then slice these in half). If you are using bok choy, separate the leaves and trim the ends. Wash both thoroughly.
- Slice your spring onion, ginger and have your bean sprouts washed and ready.
- Boil a full kettle of water
NOW LET’S COOK…
- Add half the boiled water to your wok and should you be using dried noodles, add the other half of the water to a saucepan – bring both back to a strong boil.
- Add your beef to the boiling water in the wok (and the dried noodles to the saucepan, if using) – cook the beef for about 4 minutes and the dried noodles according to the packet. Drain the beef and leave to one side. Drain the (dried) noodles and refresh under cold water to stop them sticking together – drain. If you are not going to proceed with the next step immediately, mix a little oil with the noodles to stop them sticking together.
- Wipe out the wok and return reheat. Once it has dried out (a matter of seconds) add 1 tbsp. of plain cooking oil and swirl to coat the sides of the wok. Add the combined light soya sauce and water and then add the drained noodles. Fry the noodles briskly, moving them around quickly, for 1 minute. Dish onto the centre of your serving plate. The noodles will stick to the wok – don’t freak out, just wash out the wok thoroughly!
- Reheat the clean wok to a high heat and add 1 tbsp. of plain oil and the Chinese greens, followed by the spring onion and bean sprouts – fry for about a minute. Remove and place around the noodles.
- Reheat the wok (last time, I promise), add 1 tbsp. of plain oil and fry the ginger slices until fragrant. Add the combined sauce mixture and allow to thicken briefly (have a little hot water to hand should the sauce thicken too much). Add the precooked beef and fry briskly. Add a dash of sesame oil to give the sauce a “glazed” look.
- Pour the sauce and beef over the noodles, sprinkle over some white pepper and eat IMMEDIATELY!
EAT WITH…some hot chilli sauce on the side