CHOW FUN (CHAO FEN, Chinese wide rice noodles)

Chow fun is the Cantonese transliteration of typical Southern Chinese dishes made with wide rice noodles (in Mandarin, the dishes are called chao fen).  Because so many Cantonese immigrated to America, chow fun is the name most often used for these dishes in Chinese-American restaurants.  Similar dishes are popular in many Southeast Asian nations, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines and Singapore.

The noodles, which are made from rice flour and water (tapioca and cornstarch are sometimes added to improve texture or transparency), are available fresh, dried or frozen in various shapes and thicknesses.  They are also available in sheets which can be cut into the widths desired for specific dishes.  If you are able to find freshly made noodle sheets, it’s best to bring them home, cut them and use them the same day.  If you must keep them overnight, don’t refrigerate them.  Instead, keep them in a cool place so that they don’t become brittle, difficult to slice and apt to break when stir fried.