eat. shop. love. nyc.

Ho fun? How fun! Wide flat rice noodle stir fry

I was doing a little grocery shopping in Chinatown the other day and came across a shop on the northeast corner of Grand and Chrystie. Little old Chinese ladies were hawking freshly made noodles called ho fun, shahe fen or sen yai, wide flat rice noodles, almost gummy or sticky in texture, often found in dishes such as chow fun or pad see ew. For $1.50, I picked up 2 huge bags of ho fun. I only wanted 1 bag, as that was already 2 pounds, but the fresh noodles don’t keep long, maybe 3-4 days max, so the ladies try to turn inventory quickly. For $1.50, I figured if I could eat a few different incarnations of chow fun throughout the week.

There are a few basic ingredients for any Asian noodle stir-fry sauce: oyster sauce for sweetness, soy sauce for saltiness, rice vinegar for acidity, sesame seed oil for depth, and some kind of hot sauce or pepper for heat (I am a huge fan of sriracha).

Then all you have to do is pick your protein and your veggies, and throw it all in a wok (or skillet). For proteins, I like using sliced chicken breast, deep fried tofu, sweet chinese sausage, or shrimp. For veggies, I like a little crunch: American broccoli, Chinese broccoli, baby bok choy, snow peas, bean sprouts, or scallions. I also like to add fresh ginger and fresh garlic, and scramble an egg. But it’s really up to you: what you like and (usually) what you have just lying around the house that you want to get rid of.

Last night, I threw some olive oil in a skillet on high heat before adding sliced fried tofu, chopped Chinese sausage, and broccoli. After a couple minutes, I added the fresh ho fun, some sesame oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and rice vinegar. If you prefer to lean towards a more Thai flavor profile, you might add a little bit of peanut butter and squeeze some lime over the noodles. If you’re feeling more like Vietnamese, add a touch of fish sauce, a squeeze of lime, and a generous smattering of fresh cilantro. For a more Malaysian taste, you might add touches of curry, cumin, coriander, and coconut powder. If you’re feeling spicy, pick your poison: sriracha, Chinese chili sauce, rooster sauce, or teeny Thai chilis will all do the trick.

Ho fun is actually pretty difficult to stir-fry with if you want a presentable-looking dish. Too little sauce and the delicate rice noodles will break into ugly chunks. Too much sauce and the dish will be soggy or oily and not very appetizing. An easier noodle to start stir-frying with might be a yellow egg-based noodles, thinner and more supple.

If you’d rather not bother with cooking, there’s always Great NY Noodletown (Chinatown – Bowery at Bayard). If it’s good enough for David Chang, it’s good enough for you.


3 Comments so far
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Great tips! Love the ingredient breakdown by cuisine. Now let’s see if I can find fresh ho fun in Los Angeles…

Comment by Aarti

Hmm that’s very interessting but to be honest i have a hard time visualizing it… wonder what others have to say..

Comment by Frokostordning

i truly enjoy your writing taste, very remarkable,
don’t quit and keep penning considering the fact that it simply just well worth to follow it,
looking forward to look over additional of your current articles, have a good one 😉

Comment by unduddere

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