Chow fun is a classic Chinese noodle dish often served with beef. The fresh rice noodles (ho fun) typically used are very wide and sliced into strips before cooking, but I’ve never seen them in our local international groceries, so I substitute L or XL bahn pho (dry Vietnamese rice noodles). Though not authentic, it’s very close and works for us, but if you can find them I highly recommend giving it a try with the real thing.
Chow fun is an easy dish to make with the kids. Builder Guy, age 8, helped with mixing the sauces, rinsing the bean sprouts, and hydrating and draining the noodles, while I cut the chicken, ginger, and green onions and did the woking. We made a good team and he was very proud of the finished dish.
Because I was doing the final cooking, I set my Canon 40D on a tripod, cranked it up high, handed the wireless remote to Builder Guy, and asked him to take the photos while I cooked. He had a blast! He climbed up on the step stool next to the tripod and shouted, “Abracadabra!” while pointing the remote like a wand every time he pushed the button. In the end, we had over 70 pictures of the approximately 7 minutes it took to me to finish the dish, and he was so proud of every single one of them.
When we served the chow fun, we heard mostly approving comments from the boys:
“This is good!” (Builder Guy)
“Awesome!” (Top Gun)
“Can I have cheese on top?” (Monkey Boy)
No cheese on this ingredient list, just some basic widely available Chinese condiments. Younger children can help with simple tasks such as:
rinsing the bean sprouts...
and mixing the sauces.
Of course let an older child, teen, or adult take over at the wok.
How Adults Can Help the Kids
- Demonstrate and assist with any tasks that might be new: measuring, stirring, pouring, chopping, stir-frying.
- Assign the simpler tasks, such as mixing the marinade and sauce and washing the bean sprouts, to the younger kids, and save the more challenging tasks for the older kids and adults.
- Make sure an adult is present at all times.
- Young children should not handle sharp knives or hot woks. Make sure an adult or older child or teenager does the chopping and stir-frying.
- The oil in the wok will be hot, so be careful when adding the chicken and watch for splatters.
Gluten-free condiments that were once difficult to find are now on grocery shelves. I have modified the ingredients to include gluten-free versions.
Chicken Chow Fun
- 4- to 5-quart pot with lid
- 2 small bowls
- medium bowl or glass pie plate
- 1 pound gluten-free XL bahn pho (dry Vietnamese rice noodles)
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast (cut into ¼-inch thick slices)
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free light soy sauce (divided)
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free Chinese rice wine (divided)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free oyster sauce
- 5 tablespoons peanut oil (divided)
- 1 pound bean sprouts (rinsed and drained)
- 3 slices ginger (peeled)
- 3 scallions (thinly sliced on the diagonal)
- Bring about 3 quarts of water to boil. Remove from heat, put the dry noodles in the hot water, and allow them to soften about 5 minutes, but do not allow the noodles to get too soft or they will break apart in the wok. Drain well and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine 1 table spoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine, cornstarch, and sesame oil. Pour over the chicken in the medium bowl and stir to coat.
- In the other small bowl, combine the oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon rice wine.
- In the wok, heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil over high heat. Stir fry the chicken until it just turns white, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
- Add 2 tablespoons of peanut oil to the wok. Add the bean sprouts and stir just until lightly coated with oil, about 1 minute. Add the ginger and scallions and stir-fry until the sprouts are just limp, about 2 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the chicken.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of peanut oil to the wok along with the noodles. Spread the noodles around the wok and let them rest until slightly crusty on the bottom, about 1 minute. Stir-fry the noodles gently so they do not break until light brown, about 2 minutes. Return the chicken and bean sprouts to the wok and pour in the oyster sauce mixture. Gently stir-fry until it’s all heated through, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately.
More Cooking with Kids Recipes
For the complete list of The Kids Cook Monday recipes, visit my Cooking with Kids page.
Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) says
I usually make Chow Fun with the more traditional wide (fresh) rice noodles that you can buy in Asian groceries. They are chewy and slithery, and if you can find those noodles, kids really like them. It's great to know that banh pho, the more widely available noodles we all use for Pad Thai, work just as well.
I love the fresh noodles in the dish, especially with beef, and I'll keep looking for them.
Andrea, so nice that you include your son in the kitchen - it's a great skill to have. I always tell my boys that if they can cook, they'll have no trouble finding a wife! Chow fun is a favorite in our house - although the fresh noodles are hard to come by. Great idea, substituting the dried rice noodles!