Beef chow fun is a staple Cantonese dish, made from stir-frying beef, hor fun (wide rice noodles) and bean sprouts. It is commonly found in yum cha restaurants in Guangdong, Hong Kong, and even overseas, as well as in cha chaan tengs. Chow fun, or stir-fried hor fun (shahe fen) noodles, is a term that can refer to any number of different individual preparations (could be compared to pizza in United States cuisine).
The main ingredient of this dish is hor fun noodles, which is also known as Shahe fen, originating in the town of Shahe in Guangzhou. Hor fun wide rice noodles, or Guangzhou Shahe fen, is a noodle that is said to have originated in the town of Shahe, now a subdistrict of the city of Guangzhou, China. (Hinsbergh) It is a wide, flat noodle that is cut into shape (qiefen.) The most common methods of cooking hor fun are in soup or stir fried. Hor fun can be dry-fried (fried without sauce) or wet-fried (fried with a sauce).
The meat is marinated first. Then, the beef is seared in the wok. Other ingredients and the hor fun noodles are added, then combined with the beef and sauce. The bean sprouts are then stir fried with the rest of the chow fun until they are tender and the dish is ready to serve.
An important factor in the making of this dish is "wok hei" (鑊氣). The cooking must be done over a high flame and the stirring must be done quickly. Not only must the hor fun be stirred quickly, it must not be handled too strongly or it will break into pieces. The amount of oil also needs to be controlled very well, if not, the excess oil or dry texture will ruin the dish. Because of these factors, this dish is a major test for chefs in Cantonese cooking.