Try chow fun noodles for a Cantonese-inspired dish featuring fresh vegetables, seasoned tofu, and wide rice noodles. Transform simple ingredients into an umami-rich, flavor-packed, and mind-blowing lunch or dinner! You’re going to be shocked at how easily it comes together!
What is chow fun?
Chow fun is both a type of noodle and a Cantonese dish that consists of three primary ingredients — protein, rice noodles, and bean sprouts.
Outside of the United States and other English-speaking countries, this dish commonly goes by ‘ho fun,’ ‘shahe fen,’ or ‘ho fan.’ But don’t worry, they all refer to the same thing!
One of the main flavor components of chow fun is known as ‘wok hei,’ which is imparted by cooking everything at a high temperature to create a unique charred, umami, and smoky flavor.
What are chow fun noodles?
As previously mentioned, chow fun is the name given to the wide rice noodles featured in this dish. Chow fun noodles (or ho fun) are made from ground rice, then sold either fresh or dry for you to rehydrate.
If you live close to an Oriental market, I highly suggest looking for fresh chow fun noodles that are preserved in oil to maintain their elasticity. This will give you the most authentic taste!
Is chow fun vegan?
Chow fun is traditionally a meat-based dish, but it’s extremely easy to make vegan. Instead of beef, I opted for tofu. I also swapped out the oyster sauce for a vegan oyster sauce made from mushrooms.
Making these small changes makes this dish friendly for all kinds of eaters!
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Rice noodles: Known as chow fun noodles, ho fun, ho fen, or shahe fen, these wide rice noodles can be found at your local Asian food market. If you can’t find the thick ones (10-15mm), simply substitute them with any flat rice noodle you have access to.
- Tofu: To replace the beef typically found in traditional chow fun. Use extra-firm tofu for the best texture, or replace it with tempeh, soy curls or soy chunks.
- Shallots: For a delicate, slightly sweet, and savory element. If you don’t have shallots, use spring onions or yellow onions to emulate the flavor.
- Scallions: Along with the shallots, scallions add a mild onion taste and a pop of color. Substitute them with chives if you’re running low.
- Bean sprouts: One of the three main components of chow fun, mung bean sprouts add a crispy, crunchy, and hydrating texture with a light bean flavor.
- Oyster mushrooms & carrots: For this vegetable chow fun, I went with carrots for sweetness and oyster mushrooms to add the umami flavor that normally comes from beef. You could also add snow peas, watercress, eggplant, baby bok choy, or shiitake mushrooms.
- Red chili: For a little kick! If you’re sensitive to heat, omit the chili altogether.
- Avocado oil: To cook the tofu and vegetables in. If you don’t have avocado oil, replace it with olive oil, sesame oil, or another vegetable oil.
- Ginger: I prefer to use fresh ginger, but you can also use ginger paste to save time. However, I wouldn’t recommend using powdered ginger.
- Garlic paste: You can either use garlic paste or freshly minced garlic to add zesty, punchy, and savory flavors to this vegetable chow fun recipe.
- Mushroom oyster sauce: Used in place of regular oyster sauce. If you don’t have any available near you, hoisin also works well.
- Soy sauce: Add both low-sodium soy sauce and dark soy sauce for the most traditional seasoning. If you can’t find dark soy sauce, use a little extra hoisin and low-sodium soy sauce. For a gluten-free option, use tamari, liquid aminos, or coconut aminos.
- Maple syrup: To balance out the spice and savoriness, sweeten your chow fun noodles with maple syrup or brown sugar.
- Shaoxing wine: A type of Chinese rice wine, Shaoxing wine can be found at your local Asian food market. If there is none to be found, swap in dry sherry. Note: Shaoxing wine contains wheat, so keep that in mind if you are celiac or sensitive to gluten.
- Dry: If using dry chow fun noodles, submerge them in boiling water and leave them for a few minutes. You’ll know they’re ready when they’ve turned a solid white color. Drain the noodles, rinse in cold water, and set aside.
- Fresh: If using fresh noodles, blanch them in boiling hot water with the heat turned off. Again, there is no need to boil this type of noodle.
- Freeze the block of tofu overnight. The next day, let it thaw for one hour before prepping. Using a sharp knife, thinly slice the tofu.
- Note: The tofu will not be completely thawed, but this makes it easier to thinly slice the tofu without breaking it apart.
- Keep the amount of tofu needed for this recipe out, and transfer the rest of the slices back to the freezer for another time.
- Step 1 - Heat a large wok or pan over medium heat. Pan-fry the tofu slices in a little oil, making sure to keep them separated from each other in a single layer.
- Step 2 - Drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil all over each of the tofu slices. When they start to sizzle, then flip each one over using a tong and fry the other side for another 1 minute. Again keep the slices all apart from one another.
- Step 3 - Once the tofu is lightly golden and crispy, push it over to one side of the wok and pan-fry the oyster mushrooms. Season the tofu and mushrooms with vegan oyster sauce. Toss in the shallots, red chili, garlic and ginger. Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the Shaoxing wine.
- Step 4 - Turn the heat down again to medium-low, and mix in the rice noodles, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, maple syrup, and the remaining mushroom oyster sauce.
- Step 5 - Turn the heat up once more to high-medium, then add the scallions, carrots, and bean sprouts. Toss everything together until it is well combined. Taste the chow fun noodles, and adjust seasonings per your taste. Serve this this dish immediately after cooking for the best results.
Note: The quantity made in the above instructions are for serving size of 4 people. See recipe card for details.
For left over chow fun noodles, follow these simple storage instructions:
- Fridge: Once completely cooled, keep vegetable chow fun in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
- Freezer: Since the noodles are the main element of the dish, I do not recommend freezing this recipe as the texture of the noodles won’t be the same once thawed.
- Extra spicy: Turn the heat up on your vegetable chow fun by adding a few extra chili peppers.
- Gluten-free: For a gluten-free option, replace the soy sauce with liquid aminos, tamari, or coconut aminos. Swap out the Shaoxing wine with dry sherry.
- Cook on high heat: To impart the burnt, smoky, ‘wok hei’ flavors, cook your chow fun noodles over high heat.
- Use a wok or deep skillet: For the most efficient cooking method, a wok is best. But, don’t worry if you don’t have one! A large, deep skillet works great too!
- Don’t boil the noodles: Just like other rice noodles, you only need to rehydrate chow fun noodles in hot water.
- Freeze the tofu: For the best texture, freeze the tofu the night before making this recipe. I try to keep a block of tofu in my freezer at all times for when a chow fun craving strikes!
No, chow fun (the dish) is not gluten-free because it is made with soy sauce and Shaoxing wine. However, you can easily substitute soy sauce for tamari and Shaoxing wine with dry sherry to make this dish gluten-free. Chow fun noodles are made from rice, making them completely gluten-free.
You can make this dish oil-free by substituting the oil for water. However, the oil adds more flavor, prevents sticking, and ensures you achieve the ‘wok hei’ flavor.
More dinner recipes
If you enjoyed making this vegetable chow fun, be sure to check out some more popular Green Heart Love dinner recipes:
- Tofu bowl: A protein-packed grain bowl with crispy tofu.
- Vegan baked pasta: A plant-based twist on the viral TikTok pasta dish.
- Red Thai curry: Spicy Thai curry served with tender vegetables for an easy weeknight dinner.
- Vegan ramen: A flavorful ramen bowl in a vibrant lemongrass broth.
Chow Fun Noodles
- 2 cups Flat wide rice noodles Fresh or dried.
- 2 cups Oyster mushrooms
- 3 ounces Firm tofu Normally a block of tofu is about 8 to 10 ounces. However only ⅓ will be used for this recipe. The remaining will be stored (read instructions for more details).
- 1 whole shallots Sliced.
- 1 cup scallions Chopped 3 inches long.
- 1 cups bean sprouts
- ½ cup carrots Thinly sliced.
- 1 whole red chili De-seeded and sliced.
- 2 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon ginger Minced or paste.
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste Or minced.
- ¼ cup vegetarian mushroom oyster sauce Or hoisin sauce.
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce Low Sodium
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup Or brown sugar.
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing Wine Or dry sherry.
- Dry: If using dried noodles, then submerge the noodles in boiling water and let them boil for 5 minutes. They should turn into a solid white color when rehydrated. Drain the noodles from the water, rinse in cold water and set aside.Fresh: If using fresh noodles, then blanch them in boiling hot water with the heat turned off (no need to boil).Note: Follow the package instructions for either option for best results.
- Freeze tofu block with the packaging overnight.Note: If packaging contains water in it, then the water must be drained out before freezing.
- Leave it out to thaw for one hour before prepping.
- Remove packing and thinly slice tofu with a sharp knife.Note: the tofu will not be completely thawed, but this makes it easier to thinly slice the tofu without breaking it apart.
- Keep aside the amount of tofu needed for this recipe, and store the remaining tofu sliced back in the freezer for another use.
- Heat a large wok or pan over medium heat.
- Lay out tofu slices all apart from one another to pan fry each one properly for 1 minute.
- Drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil all over each of the tofu slices. When they start to sizzle, then flip each one over using a tong and fry the other side for another 1 minute. Again keep the slices all apart from one another.
- Once the tofu is lightly golden and crispy, push it over to one side of the wok to make room for oyster mushrooms.
- Add oyster mushroom on the other side from the tofu. Drizzle the remaining oil over the mushrooms and cook them down till they shrink in size.
- Season the tofu slices and oyster mushrooms with 2 tablespoons of mushroom oyster sauce.
- Then toss in the shallots, red chili, garlic and ginger.
- Turn up the heat to medium high and then add the Shaoxine wine. Then toss everything together.
- Turn down the heat to low-medium and add the rice noodles, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, maple syrup and the remaining mushroom oyster sauce. Toss together again.
- Then turn up the heat to medium and add scallions, carrots and bean sprouts. Toss everything together 1 more time till it's all mixed well. Cook for 1 to 2 minute and then remove from heat.
- Taste the noodles to see if you need to add more seasoning per your taste. Serve this this dish immediately after cooking for best results.
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