Springy, slippery chow fun noodles turn any stir-fry into a favorite

Sometimes people ask me to name a favorite — my favorite vegetable, my favorite legume, my favorite restaurant, my favorite food in general — and it’s an impossible question to answer. There are so many! The choice depends on my mood, and on the situation.

I could say the same thing about noodles, but only to a point. Sure, I love bucatini for some sauces and penne for others. And when I discovered ruffled mafaldine I thought I’d met my one true love. But my affection faded, and I returned to my long-standing conviction, which is a paraphrase of Prince lyrics as sung by Sinéad O’Connor: Nothing compares to chow fun.

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These wide rice noodles — also called ho fun — are springy, slippery and a little chewy and, perhaps most important, they absorb sauces so beautifully they end up becoming integral to the dish in a way that doesn’t seem to happen with a lot of other noodles. I overindulge anytime noodles are involved, but with Chinese chow fun dishes (and similar Thai pad see ew), the amount I consume is the amount that’s in front of me. And that’s just as well, because I never like them as much as leftovers, when the noodles tend to clump and get too soft in the reheating.

Get the recipe: Vegetable Chow Fun

I had never cooked these favorite noodles at home until I spotted a recipe for Vegetable Chow Fun in Maggie Zhu’s new book, “Chinese Homestyle.” For her take on the Cantonese specialty, she smartly instructs you to slightly undercook the dried noodles, so they don’t get mushy when stir-fried with a bounty of vegetables and a rich, aromatic sauce. There are equal parts veggies and noodles in the dish, and besides the sauce, much of the flavor comes from the liquid the mushrooms exude and the noodles drink up.

I bought plenty of extra noodles while shopping for the dish, and I’m so glad I did, because I’ve made Maggie’s take on chow fun a few more times since. Perhaps even better, I’ve gotten comfortable enough cooking them that I’ve thrown them into my off-the-cuff, clean-out-the-fridge stir-fries, too. Each time, they’ve made what was old taste like a favorite, hands down.

Get the recipe: Vegetable Chow Fun