I've been getting really into my Chinese cooking during lock down. Some Cantonese dishes require many different types of cooking, making them very complicated. It isn't unusual to boil, deep fry, then steam something. This obviously leads to many layers of flavour but isn't something you want to do every day. Lock down changed this, so I found myself making more elaborate food. I spent 48 hours making one dish on more than one occasion. These are special treats though, and not what home cooking normally looks like.
Cantonese food is rarely like the sugar and food colouring filled dishes from a Chinese takeaway. I find there is definitely a place for things like that. After all I'm partial to sweet & sour pork balls! But the food doesn't resemble what we eat at home. There's no "choose your meat, choose your sauce" option, and dishes tend to be braised, steamed or stir fried.
My recipe for satay beef ho fun falls somewhere in the middle of indulgent and virtuous. There's no deep frying, but jarred satay sauce isn't a health food! Feel free to make your own to lower the fat content but given this was my first time, I was making it easy. And easy it definitely is, given it comes together in around 20 minutes.
So without further ado, you'll need:
Jarred satay sauce
Dried wide rice noodles (or fresh ho fun if you're lucky enough). Cook according to packet instructions, rinse with cold water then drain
Beef suitable for stir frying like sirloin, rump, flank
Ginger, 3 slices
Start out by slicing your beef and marinating it in light soy, dark soy, rice wine and sesame oil. Set it to one side while you prepare everything else.
You want to have everything ready before you start frying so cut your peppers and onions into chunks, prepare a cornflour slurry, and mix a few table spoons of satay paste with a little water or stock to make it thin enough to make a stir fry sauce.
Most families in Hong Kong will use one wok to make everything (space is limited after all!), so start off by heating your wok or wide frying pan to a very high heat. Once hot, add a little oil and your cold rice noodles. Allow them to settle and char a little before stir frying. Once charred, add a little light and dark soy, toss a few more times and place onto your serving place.
In the empty wok, quickly sear the beef over a high heat and remove from the work.
Heat the wok again, add a touch more oil, and your ginger slices. After 3o seconds, add your peppers, onions, a splash of rice wine and some water. Cook for a few minutes until the veg has softened a bit. The stir in your satay sauce, as well as light soy and sugar to taste. Thicken with a cornflour slurry if necessary. Add your beef at the last minute and cook it only long enough to warm through.
Pour the sauce over the rice noodles and serve.
It's common to see a stir fried base, and separate stir fried topping in Hong Kong. This is less common in Europe but works really well. It means you can give the right attention to each ingredient. The base can be ho fun, vermicelli or even crispy egg noodles (a favourite of mine). For my topping, I often make an egg gravy with seafood, tofu and peppers in black bean sauce, or something with loads of garlic and oyster sauce.
I don't eat beef often because of its carbon impact, but this is traditionally served with beef so I thought I'd follow the right recipe first time. In future, I think it would work with chicken or tofu. I've seen recipes with egg in the ho fun, so the topping could then just have veg and still be a balanced meal. I'll try that next time!