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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pho Ap Chao Bo (Vietnamese Pan-Fried Rice Noodles Sauteed with Beef)

This time it's the same beef stir-fry but atop rice noodles. I think most people are familiar with rice noodles in soups or in stir-fries. Ap chao means both pan-fried and sauteed. And indeed, these noodles get double treatment. The noodles are pan-fried first, then sauteed second for a crispy and chewy noodle that soaks up all the beefy juices.

Pho Ap Chao Bo 1

A close-up of the rice noodles.

Pho Ap Chao Bo 2

Pho Ap Chao Bo (Vietnamese Pan-Fried Rice Noodles Sauteed with Beef)

For 2 servings as a main dish or 4 servings as a side dish, you'll need:
1/4 lb beef, thinly sliced
6 baby bok choy, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 carrot, julienned
1 cup oyster mushrooms, or any other mushrooms of your choice
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tblsp oyster sauce, or black bean, hoisin, or kecap manis
1 tblsp soy sauce
1 tblsp corn starch
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 package fresh Banh Pho (Vietnamese Flat Thin Rice Noodles). The package should say tuoi, which means fresh.

Thinly slice 1/4 lb or more beef. Marinate with 3 cloves minced garlic, 2 tblsp oyster sauce, 1 tblsp soy sauce, 1 tblsp corn starch, 1 tsp fish sauce, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, and 1/2 tsp sugar. Mix thoroughly and set aside.

Then dice and slice your choice of vegetables. Starting from the top right, I have onions, baby bok choy, marinated beef, bell pepper, carrot, and oyster mushrooms. Set aside.

Mi Xao Don Thit Bo 3

There's three versions of rice noodles, I used the fresh medium-sized banh pho noodles that you commonly find in Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup). These are soft and ready to eat. There's also another type of fresh noodles that only need a few seconds in boiling water to soften. And of course, I think most people are familiar with dried rice noodles. If you can only find dried rice noodles where you are, you'll have to boil them, then allow them to drain very, very thoroughly before you can fry them.

The banh pho tuoi sometimes come already separated. Most likely though the noodles will be sliced but in a flat package. You'll need to do two batches for this recipe. The noodles will shrink a lot after they're fried. Lightly separate half of the package of noodles.

Pho Ap Chao Bo 3

In a shallow pan on medium-high heat, add a good portion of oil to completely cover the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot, add in the rice noodles until they cover the bottom.

Pho Ap Chao Bo 4

When they crisp up, flip with a spatula. This might take a while but you don't want to rush the process because you want the noodles to stick together into a big sheet. Then when you cut them, you'll get big crispy-outside, chewy-inside noodle sheets. Otherwise, the noodles will fall apart and you might as well have stir-fried the noodles instead.

The noodles will be a bit golden, but not by much so don't worry about that. Also, don't worry if they're not all completely crispy either. The beauty of this dish is the combo of crispy and chewy noodles.

Pho Ap Chao Bo 5

When both sides are crispy, drain on paper towels. Then repeat with the other half of the package of noodles.

Pho Ap Chao Bo 6

When the noodles are cool enough for handling, cut into 2-inch by 3-inch sheets. I just use a pair of scissors for ease. Set aside. Notice the individual "sheets" of noodles?

Pho Ap Chao Bo 7

Now you're ready to make the sauce. In a large saucepan or wok on high heat, drizzle a bit of oil and saute the onion slices.

Mi Xao Don Thit Bo 4

When the onions have softened, add the beef, reserving the marinade. Saute the mixture until the beef looks slightly charred, then add in the marinade. Add about 1/2 cup to 1 cup of water into the empty bowl so you get the last of the marinade, and add that to the pan as well. The corn starch will start thickening the beef mixture into a gravy.

Mi Xao Don Thit Bo 5

Add the mushrooms, carrot, and bell pepper and saute again.

Mi Xao Don Thit Bo 6

The mixture should start softening and thickening. Add the bok choy near the end so they don't get overcooked.

Mi Xao Don Thit Bo 7

When the sauce is to your liking, add the pan-fried rice noodles back into the pan and quickly saute so the noodles absorb the sauce. Don't stir them around in the pan too much or the noodles will lose their crispness. You can always pour extra sauce over the noodles after you plate them.

Pho Ap Chao Bo 8

Serve the crispy pho ap chao bo onto a deep plate that can handle extra gravy.

Pho Ap Chao Bo 1


If you don't want to make your own pho ap chao bo, you can also order this dish at Pho Thang Long Restaurant - Westminster (Little Saigon).

While I don't think rice noodles in and of themselves are all that remarkable, I think the double cooking method may be unusual for some people. So I'm submitting this recipe to Weekend Herb Blogging, a world-wide food blogging event created by Kalyn's Kitchen celebrating herbs, vegetables, or flowers.

If you would like to participate, see who's hosting next week. WHB is hosted this week by Kelly of Sounding My Barbaric Gulp.

1 year ago today, Pizza with Squash Blossoms and Prosciutto.


  1. whoa an interesting way to cook the noodles...i shall try with chinese hor fun ^_^

    comfort food at its best!

  2. The double-cooking is indeed unusual. Maybe that's the solution to these noodles always breaking on me. I find it difficult to cook with rice noodles because they always want to break into a million small pieces.

    1. Don’t stir fry it while it’s fresh. Only when it hardens up in the fridge overnight or from a dry package. From the fridge- u only stir fry it for a short period when cooking. It’s more like u just fold it into ur sauce. From the package, it is recommended that u soak them for 15 mins. Then drain and fold them into ur sauce. Hope this helps.

  3. I've had this dish before! It was called rice pancake, so I wasn't expecting it to look like it did when they brought it out. But it was good.

  4. W.C, you've got me drooling again. I tried this dish once more than 10 years ago in Hanoi but never attempted to make it myself. If I use dried pho, is there anything that I have to do differently?

  5. That looks tasty! I have never had noodles cooked like that but it sounds good.

  6. This looks delicious! I agree, this cooking method is definitely unusual and I love the fact that there are crisp and chewy noodles both. Great photos too.

  7. That's a new method to me. You are into noodles these days aren't u wandering chopsticks? =)

  8. Intriguing cooking method! Please pardon my *drool* but I just can help it sometime...yum!

  9. That's a lot of oil but the final result is worth it!

  10. all these step by step pictures are making me so hungry ... ! this looks superb ...was wondering if you've got the recipe for vietnamese Bi Bim Baap ? gosh how i love that !

  11. MCR,
    I like ho fun too. One of my favorite restaurants would pan-fry it with less oil for a bit of char on the noodles before stir-frying. Yum!

    Are you using fresh noodles or dried ones that have to be boiled before stir-frying? I prefer fresh noodles for stir-frying myself and use dried noodles for soups.

    Rice pancake? I guess I could see that since you're cutting the noodles into small sheets.

    Thanks for asking. I've added in a sentence about having to boil and thoroughly drain dried rice noodles before they can be used.

    Slightly different method but it works great.

    Thanks! I've been trying to challenge myself with more unusual entries for WHB.

    The cravings come and go. :P

    Haha! No problem. Here's a napkin to wipe off the drool. ;)

    Not too much since it's not deep-fried.

    The recipe, and all of my other recipes can be found by using my searchbar or clicking on my recipe index. Bibimbap isn't VNese though. It's a Korean dish. So look under Korean in the index.

  12. Thanks for this recipe by the way. My version came out not too bad. Your posts make me so hungry!

  13. Oh this looks soooo good. Can I just come to your house to try it? No? I will have to get brave and try it at home.

  14. Jan Frederick,
    You should post about it so I can see. :)

    Ah, you should definitely try it at home. It's far easier than you think.

  15. Hi, I made this dish for dinner last night and the noodles turned out great! Indeed they were crispy and chewy. :-)

    I loved the ratio of vegetables to meat in the stir-fry (lots of veggies). I was thinking I might add a minced chile next time. Do you ever do that? Thanks for the new noodle recipe!

  16. Sherry,
    I'm glad you liked the recipe. I do try to add vegetables where I can. ;) Minced chili would be a great addition. I tend to add that afterward since people have different heat tolerances.

  17. Great recipe, it's how I found your blog-- and since we live right near Fosselman's it's like having a neighborhood expert give you the lowdown. Also, I made your fried rice noodles last night with some leftover 5 spice pork loin and snap peas and it turned out fantastic! Cheers!

  18. "ap chao" means pan-fried, and "xao" mean sauteed, no?
    I love your recipes, they're awesome!

  19. Synaptic Vesicle,
    Thanks! I'm glad you like the blog and that the recipe turned out great for you.

    Thanks. I thought ap chao only meant pan-fried too, but when I looked it up in my dictionary to double-check, it says it also means sauteed. Which totally made sense to me in terms of this dish. :)

  20. Oh my! Chewy, crunchy and beefy, sign me up please!

  21. This was unbelievably delicious! As I wanted to use what I had on hand I used rolled rice noodles and so didn't fry them or add the water to make a gravy (& so cut down the cornflour to 1tsp) - but otherwise I followed the seasoning exactly and this made a perfect stir fry. Beautiful combo of flavours, this is a real favourite in my house now - thank you for posting!

  22. may i ask what kind of beef do you use?

  23. Beck,
    Unbelievably delicious! That's what I like to hear! :) I like stir-frying rolled rice noodles a lot.

    I just buy cheap steak, the $2 kind and slice it up. Any kind will do since you're cutting it into small pieces. Just remember to slice against the grain so the beef will be easier to chew.

  24. Hi!

    I want to make this for about 10 people. If I triple the recipe will that be enough food?

    So excited to try it.

  25. I just cooked this dish with one packet of the noodles. It was more than enough for 4 people. It was delicious! I substituted celery for bok choy and also used some cabbage and hot thai chilli.

  26. Natasha,
    I hope so? I usually make this for 2 people as a meal or 4 people as a side dish. Depends on whether they're big eaters.

    Sounds great! Glad you liked it!

  27. Do you by chance know the calories in this dish?

  28. Tabrina,
    No clue. I don't count calories. You could try plugging all the ingredients into some kind of calorie counter and figure it out that way?

  29. My package of noodles recommend microwaving the entire package for a few minutes prior to eating. Also, a restaurant in my area serves this but call it hieu tieu ap chao. They fry it to a more golden brown and don't sautee the noodles together afterwards, just lay it onto a plate and pour the stir fry on top. I love to eat it with satay and toi phi -- both of which are made fresh in the restaurant

  30. T.Lillian.N,
    You can eat these noodles fresh, but I was frying them up crispy. It would make it easier not to stir-fry and to just pour the gravy on top! Chili sauce and fried garlic sound great! Now, you're making me hungry.


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