Quick, simple, cheap and yummy

There are times when, as much as I enjoy cooking, I just can’t be bothered to cook something too intricate or time-consuming. At times like this, I find that noodles are usually a good dinner choice. After all, it doesn’t take too long to soak some noodles and then dry them ready to be stir-fried or dunked into some hot broth. I could go on about my love for noodles, but that’s possibly something for a separate post.

After the mega cooking-fest that was Chinese New Year (see Hello Rabbit), I found myself (perhaps unsurprisingly so) not wanting to cook anything for a while. I jokingly said that I would be eating fast food and getting food delivered to my house for the next week. But the truth is that I went to the market a couple of days later and found my head buzzing with ideas for dishes from walking past the various stalls – Steamed razor clams with garlic, black bean and chilli sauce? Perhaps make another beef rendang? The steak looked good so perhaps make a teriyaki and eat with kimchi? The choices and possibilities were endless..

Aside from the obvious health reasons to not eat fast/processed food all week, there was no denying that it was cheaper to cook my own food and it would be (generally) much tastier. (For the record, I’m not completely opposed to eating takeaway/microwave meals. There are times when they’re the only thing to satisfy a craving, but as a rule I try not to eat too many microwave meals). There was also the fact that I had some ingredients to use up, including some fresh ho fun from Lo’s Noodle Factory.

I decided to make Dry Beef ho fun (sometimes called Beef chow fun) – tender slithers of beef with onions, beansprouts, spring onions and of course, ho fun all cooked in an exceedingly hot wok (with plenty of wok hei) so that all the combined ingredients are not only flavoured by the seasoning, but also from the char from the wok hei. It’s a favourite dish of mine when we go out yum cha and I only recently perfected the method in replicating the same taste at home:

Firstly, you thinly slice some beef (or steak) and mix thoroughly with some light and dark soy sauce, white pepper, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine and cornflour. Leave mixture to marinade for about 30mins. Next, slice some spring onions into pieces anything between 1 to 2 inches (but no more than that) and put equal parts of light and dark soy sauce into a bowl. Separate the ho fun as best you can so that everything is ready to go (useful tip: If the ho fun has been in the fridge, separate the ho fun and warm up in the microwave so that you don’t lower the temperature too much when cooking later).

Onto cooking: Heat up a wok (or frying pan) and add some oil until it’s smokingly hot. Add the beef and cook for a few minutes, empty the cooked beef into a bowl and wipe the work (or pan) dry. The next part is done with quite ferocious speed; Put the wok back onto the heat, add oil and again wait until the oil is smokingly hot (This part is really important as this is the wok hei I keep going on about). Add onions and white tops of the spring onions and stir fry for about 30 seconds before adding some beansprouts, then add a dash of Shoaxing wine and then add the soy sauce mixture – It should bubble immediately in the pan if it’s hot enough. Now add the ho fun and the green parts of the spring onions and mix everything thoroughly. Once everything is mixed together, return the beef to the pan and again, mix together. Serve in a bowl or plate (with or without chilli sauce/oil) and enjoy!

It was perfect – Meaty, the vegetables still had a slight crunch which contrasted nicely with the soft, slippery texture of the ho fun. The whole dish had the unmistakable wok hei taste and it took less than an hour to make (including marinating for 30mins) When you can make food from scratch at home, why bother with a microwave meal?

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