A favorite family recipe, Mom’s Chow Fun! A Hawaiian-style chow fun recipe, this is a quick & easy stir fry made with loads of aromatic veggies, ground pork, Spam (🌺🤙🏼), & wide-cut rice noodles. It’s all stir fried in a simple, umami-packed sauce, resulting in deeply caramelized, flavorful, craveable noodles. Made with pantry staples in 30 minutes or less, this pork chow fun is quick, easy, flavor-filled, weeknight dinner perfection!
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Staub, who I’m absolutely thrilled to partner with throughout 2021. Staub’s incredible Perfect Pan is my favorite all-purpose pan. A must-have for any home chef! All thoughts & opinions are my own.
A childhood favorite, inspired by Mom.
My obsession for all things pasta is long documented here on PWWB. Something I’ve never mentioned before, though, is it’s actually predated by a love for noodles, which is deeply rooted in happy (& delicious!) childhood memories of my mom’s cooking.
My mom is basically the queen of quick, easy, satisfying weeknight dinners. She cooks craveable meals that make you feel comforted & cared for, but she does so with a certain pragmatism – her cooking is straight-forward, no-fuss, & it’s always so darn good. Some of my favorite meals she makes are stir fried noodle dishes – lo mein, fried saimin, chow fun.
Mom’s chow fun is the best – a quick & easy stir fry made with loads of aromatic veggies, juicy bites of pork, & bouncy, springy, wide-cut rice noodles. Downright satisfying, & better yet, super quick & easy to throw together.
I’m thrilled to share this family recipe in partnership with Staub. I’m a long-time super fan of Staub; their products are beautifully designed, high quality pieces built to last a lifetime. With Mother’s Day around the corner, a new piece from Staub would be the perfect Mother’s Day gift for the special Mom in your life…just sayin’!!!
Today we’re cooking with Staub’s incredible Perfect Pan. Aside from my trusty cocottes, the Perfect Pan is my absolute favorite all-purpose cookware. It’s a 4.5-quart enameled cast iron wok, so it retains heat extremely well (important for quick stir fries that depend on high heat), but its brilliance really lies in its design. It has a wide base with tall, angled sides, so it’s great for a multitude of tasks – searing, sautéing, steaming, & even deep frying. Beautiful, functional, and multi-purpose?! It doesn’t get better than that!
Hawaiian Chow Fun Recipe Highlights
This chow fun recipe is…
- HAWAIIAN STYLE! Traditional Cantonese chow fun with a few local-style twists (like Spam! 😋🤙🏼), pork chow fun is incredibly popular in the local Hawaii food scene for good reason – it’s flavorful, comforting, & incredibly quick & easy to make.
- QUICK & EASY TO MAKE. Calling for a handful of staple ingredients, pork chow fun is a quick & easy stir fry that you can make in 30 minutes or less. Weeknight dinner dream!
- SERIOUSLY VERSATILE. Very easy to adapt using ingredients you have on hand or are craving. Easy variations included below!
Local-style comfort food doesn’t get better than this! ♡ Read on to learn more about this Hawaiian-Style Pork Chow Fun, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!
What is Hawaiian-Style Chow Fun?
Chow fun is an iconic Chinese (specifically, Cantonese) noodle dish, commonly made with beef, bean sprouts, & wide rice noodles. It’s saucy & incredibly rich in umami flavor, but my favorite part is definitely the noodles – they soak up all of the sauce & take on an almost caramelly quality from being stir fried in the pan. Seriously so good.
What’s Hawaiian-style chow fun, then? Well, it’s pretty simple – it’s a hybrid of Chinese chow fun, made with ingredients commonly used in local-style cooking. (Remember – Hawaii is it’s a melting pot of people, cultures, & traditions from all around the Pacific Rim, which is very much so reflected in Hawaii’s local food scene!) Local-style Hawaii chow fun (also sometimes spelled with two n’s, chow funn) has a few notable differences from Chinese versions. First, it’s not quite as thick & saucy. Second, it’s commonly made with pork, not beef.
This pork chow fun is one of my all-time favorite meals my mom makes (& it’s one of her favorites, too!). The the last time Chris & I visited my parents, she showed me how she makes it. I was shocked to learn how simple it is to throw together though, I shouldn’t have been, TBH! Mom’s meals are always big in flavor but pretty simple in preparation (she’s a savvy cook like that!). I know you’re going to love it just as much as we do!
Pork Chow Fun Key Ingredients
Like many local Hawaiian dishes, this pork chow fun recipe is made with simple, flavorful staples. If you keep some staple Asian ingredients stocked in your pantry, you probably have almost everything you need to make pork chow fun on hand already. If not, a quick trip to an Asian grocery store will do the trick! (More guidance on sourcing provided below.)
To make this pork chow fun recipe, you will need…
- Wide rice noodles – Traditional Cantonese chow fun is made with a thick, wide rice noodle called ho fun (alternate spellings include ho fan, he fen), which creates the signature springy, bouncy texture that makes chow fun so darn craveable. Fresh rice noodles are preferred, though dried works too. (I have a lot more guidance provided below & in the Recipe Notes!)
- Pork – Hawaiian-style chow fun is typically made with a combination of 2 types of pork, ground pork & finely diced Spam or char siu. Being the hapa kid I am, I have a total soft spot for Spam, so that’s what you see pictured here. If Spam isn’t your thing, you can swap it out with char siu pork. Char siu is Chinese-style roasted BBQ pork. You can easily make it at home (this recipe is great), but it’s also very easy to pick up some pre-made char siu at an Asian market (which is what Mom typically does!).
- Aromatics – Namely yellow onion, green onions (scallion), garlic, & fresh ginger.
- Veggies – This chow fun recipe calls for bean sprouts, though you can load up your chow fun with any veggies you love – shredded cabbage, shredded carrot, snow peas, thinly sliced bell pepper, etc.
- Stir fry sauce – A simple combination of oyster sauce, shoyu (soy sauce), & sesame oil.
How to prepare rice noodles for chow fun
In my opinion, the trickiest part of stir fried or pan-fried noodle dishes is properly preparing the noodles for cooking, especially if you haven’t cooked with noodles much. The good news, though, is that it’s actually really easy once you get the hang of it.
Quick pointers to get you started:
- Choosing the right noodles: Traditionally, Cantonese chow fun is made with thick, wide rice noodles (ho fun, with alternate spellings such as ho fan, he fen, etc.). In my experience, you can focus less on the labels & more on how the product looks & feels. (Sometimes, for example, the best rice noodles at my Asian food store are labeled in Vietnamese vs Chinese, etc.) Fresh rice noodles are my personal preference, though dried rice noodles work too!
- Fresh rice noodles: You can easily find fresh rice noodles at well-stocked Asian grocery stores. I buy fresh rice noodle sheets (like these) & slice into 1×3-inch pieces.
- Dried rice noodles: If fresh rice noodles are not easily accessible for you, you can absolutely use dried rice noodles for chow fun. Look for Wide Rice Stick Noodles (sometimes labeled XL, like these).
- Preparing fresh rice noodles for chow fun: Fresh rice noodles are a fully cooked product; they do not need much preparation! Here in MN, they are often refrigerated, making them a little fragile. For best results, let them come up to room temperature before using or cover with a damp paper towel & microwave for 1 minute to soften. Do not boil fresh rice noodles for chow fun, as they’ll soften up too much & disintegrate into your stir fry.
- Preparing dried rice noodles for chow fun: If using dried rice noodles, cook 1 minute less than directed by the package, straining & rinsing immediately with cold water.
How to Make Pork Chow Fun
The beautiful thing about stir fried noodle dishes is they lean on the trusty combination of high heat + flavorful ingredients to deliver an awesome meal in no time at all. This pork chow fun recipe comes together in less than 30 minutes, start to finish.
A quick run-down of the process:
- Stir fry sauce: Simply combine oyster sauce, soy sauce, & sesame oil in a bowl or jar. Dilute with a little water & whisk or shake to combine. Meal prep tip ⇢ This sauce stores very well! You can prep in advance to cut down on active prep time (& dishes!) at dinnertime.
- Pork: Place a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Begin by rendering the Spam or char siu pork, cooking a couple minutes per side until golden & browned. Then add in the ground pork & cook through. Transfer to a plate & set aside.
- Veggies: Add the onion to the same wok or skillet used to cook the pork. Cook until softened & browned. Add the garlic & ginger, cooking until fragrant. Then finish with the green onions & bean sprouts (or whatever veggies you’re using), cooking just until slightly softened.
- Chow fun: Quickness is key here! Add the pork, rice noodles, & stir fry sauce to the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, until the noodles are slightly caramelized & everything is coated in the sauce.
& just like that, less than 30 minutes later, dinner is ready to go!
Quick variation – Beef & Shiitake Chow Fun:
Another glorious thing about chow fun is that it’s highly adaptable. You can change up the protein (or omit altogether!) or amp up the veggies to tailor your chow fun for whatever you’re craving in the moment.
Mom often makes another version of this chow fun recipe using beef & shiitake mushrooms. I’m including the basic gist of it here for you if it sounds like something you’d like to try!
Mom’s Beef & Shiitake Chow Fun: Toss 1 pound thinly sliced NY Strip (or steak of choice) with 4 cloves chopped garlic, 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, & 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Pour 1/4 cup shoyu & 1 tablespoon sherry over top. Season with white pepper. Toss to combine & set aside to marinate 20-30 minutes.
Prepare the chow fun as detailed below, with a couple of tweaks. In place of pork, simply sear the steak a couple minutes per side (saving excess marinade). Cook the veggies as described, adding 8 ounces thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms to the wok with the onions. Once softened, pour the beef marinade into the pan to deglaze, then finish as described below. Hearty, easy, & so good!
I can’t wait for you to try this Hawaiian chow fun recipe! It’s so comforting, satisfying, & quick, & I know you’ll love it just as much as we do! If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!Print
My Mom’s Chow Fun is a Hawaiian-Style pork chow fun recipe, a quick & easy stir fry made with loads of aromatic veggies, ground pork, Spam (🌺🤙🏼), & wide-cut rice noodles. It’s all stir fried in a simple, umami-packed sauce, resulting in deeply caramelized, flavorful, craveable noodles.
- 16 ounces wide rice noodles (fresh or dried, see Recipe Notes)
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil (or another neutral high smoke point oil), divided
- 6 ounces char siu pork or Spam, diced into 1/4-inch cubes
- 8 ounces ground pork
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated (about 1 tablespoon)
- 8 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 cups bean sprouts
- kosher salt & white pepper, to season
for the stir fry sauce:
Prep note: Once you begin cooking, chow fun comes together very quickly! I suggest starting by getting all of the chopping, measuring & other prep odds & ends out of the way so cooking is a smooth process: mix the sauce, dice up the pork, slice the onions, chop/grate the garlic & ginger, measure the bean sprouts, etc. Place everything within an arm’s reach from the stovetop.
- Mix the stir fry sauce: Add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, & water to a bowl or jar. Whisk or shake to combine. Set aside or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Prep the rice noodles: If using fresh rice noodles, slice into 1×3-inch pieces. If your fresh rice noodles are refrigerated (as they often are here in MN), let the noodles come up to room temperature before using or cover with a damp paper towel & microwave for 1 minute to soften. Set aside. Note: See Recipe Notes (below) for guidance on dried rice noodle prep.
- Cook the pork: Add 1 tablespoon of the avocado oil to a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot & shimmering, add the Spam or char siu pork. Cook 2-3 minutes per side, stirring occasionally, until golden & browned. Add the ground pork to the skillet. Brown 3-4 minutes or until cooked through, using a wooden spoon to break up the ground pork into bite-sized crumbles as it cooks. Transfer the pork to a plate & set aside.
- Cook the vegetables: As needed, add 1 tablespoon of the avocado oil to the same large wok or skillet used to cook the pork. Once hot & shimmering, add the yellow onion. Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened & browned. Add the garlic & ginger & cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 1 minute more. Add the green onions & bean sprouts & cook, stirring frequently, until slightly softened, 2-3 minutes more.
- Stir fry the chow fun: Working quickly, add the cooked pork, rice noodles, & stir fry sauce to the skillet. Stir to combine, coating all of the components in the sauce. Cook, stirring constantly, 1-2 minutes more, until the noodles are slightly caramelized. Remove from the heat. Taste & season with kosher salt (or soy sauce) & white pepper as desired.
- Serve immediately, garnished with sliced green onions & sesame seeds as desired. Enjoy!
- Rice noodles:
- Fresh rice noodles: In my opinion, chow fun is best made with fresh rice noodles, which you can easily find at any well-stocked Asian grocery store. I buy fresh rice noodle sheets (like these) & slice into 1×3-inch pieces. Here in MN, fresh rice noodles are often refrigerated which makes them a little fragile to handle. For best results, let the noodles come up to room temperature before using or cover with a damp paper towel & microwave for 1 minute to soften.
- Dried rice noodles: If fresh rice noodles are not easily accessible for you, you can absolutely use dried rice noodles in this chow fun recipe. I suggest Wide Rice Stick Noodles (sometimes labeled XL, like these). Cook 1 minute less than directed by the package, straining & rinsing immediately with cold water.
- Storage & Reheating: Leftover chow fun will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave until warmed through.
- 10-Minute Meal Prep: Nearly all of the active prep work for this Hawaiian-style chow fun comes from chopping the veggies & prepping the sauce. Get it all done in advance to get a head start on your chow fun dinner – it’ll take 10 minutes, tops:
- Mix the stir fry sauce according to Step 1 of Recipe Directions. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Slice onions – Thinly slice 1 medium yellow onion & chop 8 green onions into 1-inch pieces. Store in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Keywords: chow fun, hawaiian chow fun, local style, quick, stir fry, weeknight cooking, easy, pantry ingredients, pork recipes, spam
Recipe & Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.
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