This shrimp chow fun recipe will demonstrate how to prepare this flavorful and smoky stir-fry. It is not the ingredients that hold the secret, but rather a special cooking technique that results in the famous smoky flavor.
Wok Hei — The Secret Flavor of Chinese Cooking
This key element in Chinese cooking has been in existence for centuries. ‘Wok’ is a large, steep, and thin pan used specifically for quick stir-fries, and ‘hei’ means ‘smoke’. It has no taste, but its aroma gives whatever flavors there are an entirely different dimension. You’d think that this stuff is created by heating oil in the pan until there is smoke coming off, but that’s not the entire story.
Restaurants that specialize in Chinese dishes save one or two special woks for making dry stir-fries. They are cleaned with lots of plain water, but the use of soap, to keep some flavors inside the wok. This technique might sound unsafe, but in reality, the wok is continuously used, leaving no chance for bacteria to grow.
Upon receiving the next order, the chef would heat this wok over high heat after adding some canola oil in it, and wait for the smoke to appear. This smoke is a result of oil and flavors brought to their smoking point, giving whatever foods are cooked with it a nuanced taste. That, and only that, is the ‘wok hei’ everyone adores.
Chow Fun — A Smoky Stir-Fry
Chow fun, or '炒粉', is a stir-fry of rice noodle, veg, and meat, all imbued with the smell of ‘wok hei’. This rice noodle is soft, chewy, and large in width, allowing more sauce to cling onto it.
The sauce is made with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil. These are the basic components that build the base of flavor in Chinese cooking.
Ingredients for Our Shrimp Chow Fun
A shrimp chow fun recipe typically consists of cooked wide rice noodles, shrimp, bean sprouts, sometimes another type of veg, and the mentioned seasonings. As with many stir-fries, you can certainly add more greens to it, such as those that are crisp and fresh, like bok choys.
If you fancy a little heat, slice some chilis and add it to the stir-fry.
Chow Fun vs Chow Mein
While ‘mein’ literally means noodles, the term ‘chow mein’ specifically refers to a type of egg noodle shaped like spaghetti but less dense. ‘Chow fun’ uses a wide noodle, ‘hor fun’, made of rice instead of wheat flour and is more chewy.
Both dishes are similarly seasoned, but chow mein is often made without wok hei. Instead, it includes a slurry solution mixed in the sauce which thickens and glistens the noodles.
Chow fun is made with wok hei, and it’s also drier since the cooking technique involves charring the noodles. These char marks are not compulsory, but they are an indicator of whether or not the chef has used good techniques.
How Our Shrimp Chow Fun Is Made
Our shrimp chow fun recipe can be made in a regular skillet, but if you want the full experience, we’ll show you how to make it using a wok.
In a skillet, heat some canola oil over high heat until there’s smoke. Turn the heat to medium, and cook the garlic until it’s fragrant. Add the shrimp, cook for 3 minutes, then add the mushrooms and cook for another 3 minutes. Whisk in the sauce, add the cooked noodles and bean sprouts, and cook for another 3 minutes before turning the heat off. Garnish with scallion and sesame seeds and enjoy.
Here’s what the steps look like:
- Mix the sauce ingredients together.
- Sautée the garlic.
- Stir in the shrimp.
- Stir in the mushrooms.
- Add the sauce.
- Stir in the noodles and bean sprouts.
- Add the garnish and enjoy.
If you are using a wok, you will cook the chow fun a bit differently:
- Combine the sauces in a bowl, and gather all ingredients near your working station. Bring out your wok and spatula.
- Add canola oil to your wok, and swirl it around over high heat. Wait for some smoke to appear, then turn the heat down to medium and cook your garlic, shrimp, and mushrooms very quickly. Transfer them to a bowl and set aside.
- Bring the heat to high once again, add some more canola oil to the wok, and wait for smoke to appear. Stir in the noodles and keep on stirring until they are slightly charred.
- Immediately, turn the heat down to medium and add the shrimp, veg, and the sauce. Keep stirring until the sauce gets absorbed, then turn off the heat. Add the garnish and enjoy your meal.
How Healthy Is Shrimp Chow Fun?
Shrimp chow fun certainly combines plenty of ingredients into a nutrient-dense meal. In each serving, there are proteins and good fats from shrimp and sesame oil, carbs from rice noodles, fiber from bean sprouts and mushrooms, and tons of micronutrients from all of them combined.
On the other hand, chow fun is sometimes drenched in oil and slathered with soy sauce. Fat is crucial for the body, but too much of it can raise your calorie intake. Too much soy sauce also makes the dish salty, and salty foods have been found to be the cause of cardiovascular diseases.
At Healthy Recipes 101, our recipes are formulated with your health in mind. The calories, sodium level, and some other elements are kept within a moderate range, so that you can control your intake better.
What to Serve With Shrimp Chow Fun
If you wish to consume more calories, make these complementary sides and enjoy a better dining experience. Our suggestions include a mellow meatball soup with soft winter melon cubes, and a fresh orange pineapple juice that’s packed with natural flavors:
- Shrimp Chow Fun
- Winter Melon Meatball Soup
- Orange Pineapple Juice
Shrimp Chow Fun Recipe
This shrimp chow fun recipe demonstrates how to prepare this flavorful and smoky stir-fry. It requires just 20 minutes and basic ingredients.
- cook TIME 13 mins
- prep TIME 7 mins
- total TIME 20 mins
- COURSE Main Course
- CUISINE Cantonese, Chinese
- SERVINGS servings
- CALORIES 490 kcal
- 2.5 tbspreduced sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbspwater
- 1.5 tbspsesame oil
- 1 tspsriracha
- 0.5 tsphoisin sauce
- 0.5 tspground black pepper
- 0.3 cupcanola oil
- 2 tbspgarlic (minced)
- 9 ozpeeled shrimp (from 18 oz raw shrimp)
- 6 ozwhite mushrooms (sliced)
- 20 ozcooked wide rice noodles
- 2 ozmung bean sprouts
- 0.3 cupscallions (chopped)
- 1 tbspwhite sesame seeds (toasted)
- 1 tbspblack sesame seeds (toasted)
In a bowl, mix together 2 1/2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp water, 1 1/2 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tsp sriracha, 1/2 tsp hoisin sauce, and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper. Set aside.
Heat 1/4 cup canola oil in a non-stick skillet over high heat, until smoke appears. Reduce the heat to medium, then stir in 2 tbsp minced garlic for just about 30 seconds.
Add 9 oz peeled shrimp and keep stirring to cook for 3 minutes.
Add 6 oz button mushrooms and keep stirring to cook for 3 minutes.
Add the prepared sauce and wait for it to start simmering.
Add the noodles and stir to coat them in sauce. Add mung bean sprouts and stir for another 3 minutes, or until the sauce gets absorbed.
Turn off the heat. Sprinkle sesame seeds, 1 tbsp each, and garnish with 1/4 cup scallions.