Cheung fun (腸粉, rice noodle rolls) is something that my family always orders at dim sum. Typically, we get cheung fun with shrimp or minced beef wrapped inside a thin and soft rice noodle sheet. Although I enjoy those dim sum classics, I’ve been craving a good vegetarian or vegan version of cheung fun. That’s why I developed this mushroom cheung fun recipe.
For the filling, I used a variety of mushrooms (king trumpet, oyster, and shimeji) that I lightly stir fried and seasoned with my teriyaki sauce. I also added scallions, cilantro, garlic, and ginger for more flavor. Typically, cheung fun is served in a pool of sweet soy sauce made with water, sugar, and soy sauce. I also love serving cheung fun with a drizzle of chili oil or chili oil crisp (such as the ones made by Lao Gan Ma, Fly By Jing, or Lahtt Sauce). Feel free to serve this with any sauce you prefer.
HOW TO MAKE MUSHROOM CHEUNG FUN
STIR FRY THE MUSHROOMS
Before making the batter for the rice noodle sheets, stir fry the mushrooms and toss them with teriyaki sauce. This gives the mushrooms flavor, and it cooks down the mushrooms so that they don’t shrink too much when you are steaming the rice noodles.
You don’t want to skip the teriyaki sauce because the cheung fun will be too bland otherwise. After you stir fry the mushrooms, transfer them to a plate to cool for about 10 minutes.
MAKE THE BATTER
The batter for the rice noodle sheets is very similar to the one I used for my cheung fun recipe. You will need three types of flour for the batter: rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca starch/flour.
To make the batter, mix all the flours with 2 cups of room temperature water and then 2 cups of hot water. When adding hot water, pour a steady stream of it into the batter with one hand while stirring the batter with the other hand. You don’t want to add all the hot water at once as it may cause the flour to clump up.
If you don’t want to buy all the different flours for the recipe, you can often find cheung fun flour mixes at Asian supermarkets, like the one photographed above. Look for bags labeled “腸粉”, “肠粉”, or “bánh cuốn”.
One important thing to note: I have found the flour to water ratios in the package directions to be a little off. In the cheung fun mix photographed above, the recipe calls for one part flour to two parts water. Mama Lin and I found the rice noodles were too stiff when following that recipe. Instead, we prefer a ratio of one part flour to three parts water. The flour-to-water ratio can vary across different brands.
CHEUNG FUN STEAMER
For filled cheung fun, like this mushroom version, I prefer cooking them inside a special cheung fun steamer. I have a 1-tier version of the steamer for easier storage (shown above). The setup is a lot easier, and it allows you to make larger cheung fun.
The steamer is a stainless steel box with one or two slots for sliding in the steamer tray. My single tiered steamer came with two trays.
You can rest the steamer box right above the grate on your stove. Fill the box with about 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water. Once this water boils, there will be enough steam inside the box to cook the rice noodle batter on the steamer drawer.
You can find the steamers on Amazon, but it is pricey. My mom bought mine in San Francisco’s Chinatown for about $35 to $40.
PREPARE THE CHEUNG FUN
Before you prepare the first cheung fun, fill the steamer box with 5 to 6 cups of water, enough for the water to touch the bottom of the steel rods that support the steamer tray. Make sure you always have a lot of boiling water inside the steamer box, refilling the box with water if necessary. I burned the bottom of my box once because there was barely any water inside.
Brush a thin layer of oil on a steamer tray. This keeps the rice noodle sheets from sticking to the bottom. Note that you need to brush oil before every batch. Then, pour about 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup of batter over the tray.
With the first few cheung fun, you’ll notice that the batter is very slippery on the greased surface and it might be difficult to fill the bottom of the tray with batter. That is normal. It gets easier after several batches.
To add the filling, lay some seasoned mushrooms about 1/3 of the way up from the bottom edge. Then, scatter the scallions and cilantro over the rest of the batter before inserting the tray into the steaming box.
STEAM THE CHEUNG FUN
The cheung fun needs only 2 minutes of steaming, as the mushrooms are already cooked. When you slide out the steaming tray, you’ll see a lot of air pockets on the rice noodle sheet that deflate quickly. That’s an indication that the noodles are done.
ROLL THE CHEUNG FUN
Let the rice noodle sheet cool for a few minutes before you start rolling. The steamer sets usually comes with a firm plastic bench scraper for rolling. Because of the large surface area of the trays, I usually use two scrapers. Carefully separate the rice noodle sheet from the bottom edge to start rolling.
As you roll up the cheung fun, you may notice that the noodle sheet tears easily under the mushrooms. Don’t worry because when you roll the cheung fun all the way to the end, all the rips will be covered up.
I typically roll the noodle sheets from the bottom up, which is why the mushrooms are placed 1/3 of the way above the bottom edge. Mama Lin, however, does the exact opposite. She prefers rolling the cheung fun from top to bottom, so she lays the filling 1/3 of the way down from the top edge. Either method works–it’s just a matter of working out what is more natural for you.
ALTERNATIVE CHEUNG FUN STEAMING METHOD
You do not need a cheung fun steamer to make this recipe. I made the mushroom cheung fun successfully with a 8×8-inch square baking pan. However, the steaming setup requires a wok and a steaming rack with 2 to 2.5-inch legs similar to this one.
Essentially, you boil a lot of water inside a large wok and position a steaming rack in the center (see photo above). Then, place the filled 8×8 pan over the steaming rack and cover the wok with a lid. The cheung fun will cook in about 2 minutes with this method.
I prefer using a wide wok like this 14-inch stainless steel one because it is easier for you to insert and remove the 8×8 pan without burning your hand. Also, I have a bad habit of forgetting to drain the hot water right after I’m done using the wok for steaming. One time, rust started forming on the bottom of my carbon steel wok because I forgot to empty the water. As a result, I had to scrub the rust and reseason the wok.
Because the 8×8 pan has a smaller surface area, you need a little over 1/3 cup of batter to fill the pan.
CLEANING STEAMER SHELVES
Use extra care when cleaning the steamer trays. Because the trays are made of a thin layer of stainless steel, you can bend the bottom of it if you apply too much pressure as you clean it.
Mama Lin suggests setting the steamer tray over the counter with the lip hanging over the edge. That way, when you press down on the tray to scrub it, you won’t run the risk of bending it.
There are always stubborn bits of rice noodle that get stuck in the corners of the steaming tray or 8×8 pan. I recommend using pipe cleaners or similar small brushes to scrub the corners.
Mixed Mushroom Cheung Fun
- 1 cup (140g) rice flour
- 1/2 cup (90g) potato starch
- 1/2 cup (70g) tapioca starch/flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
- 2 cups (470ml) room temperature water
- 2 cups (470ml) just boiled water
- 8 ounces mixed mushrooms (such as oyster, king trumpet, shimeji), see note 1
- 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- sweetened cheung fun soy sauce, see note 2 for recipe
- red pepper flakes
- toasted sesame seeds
- chili oil
- Whisk together all the flours, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and 2 cups of room temperature water to the batter and stir to combine. Some of the flour will clump up. Don’t worry–keep stirring and the flour will loosen eventually.
- Gradually add the boiled water to the batter. Pour the water in a steady stream with one hand and stir the batter with the other hand. You can place a towel underneath the bowl to steady it while you pour and stir.
- Set the batter aside. Note that the flour sinks to the bottom in just a few minutes. Make sure to stir the flour before each time you are ready to prepare the cheung fun.
Stir Fry Mushrooms
- Cut the king trumpet mushrooms in half, crosswise. Then, slice each section into 1/8-inch slices. For the larger slices of mushroom that look like a “T”, slice those in half vertically so that you get two L-shaped pieces. Trim the ends of the oyster and shimeji mushrooms. If your oyster mushrooms are fairly large, slice them in half or quarters. Wash the mushrooms thoroughly.
- Heat a wok (or pan) with 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for about 15 to 30 seconds, until fragrant. Next, transfer the mushrooms to the wok and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce and stir. Turn off the heat. Add the grated ginger and toss to coat the mushrooms with ginger.
- Transfer the cooked mushrooms to a plate and let cool for 10 minutes.
Prepare Mushroom Cheung Fun
- Set the steamer box directly over the stove. Use a measuring cup with a spout to pour 5 to 6 cups of water to the bottom of the cheung fun steamer. Slide one of the steaming trays into the steamer. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring the water to boil.
- Set up your cheung fun making station. Have a small bowl of oil (about 3 tablespoons) ready and grab a brush to grease the steaming trays. Transfer the chopped scallions and cilantro in a small bowl. Make sure the batter and mushrooms are nearby.
- Once the water has boiled, use the brush to lightly grease the bottom of the tray with oil. Stir the batter to mix up the flour and water and scoop about 2/3 cup of batter over the rack.
- Add some cooked mushrooms about 1/3 of the way up from the bottom edge. Scatter a small pinch of scallions and cilantro over the rest of the batter.
- Slide the steamer tray into the steamer box and cook for 2 minutes.
- Prepare the next cheung fun as the first one cooks.
Steam and Roll Cheung Fun
- Pull the cheung fun tray out the box. Use an oven mitt or kitchen towel to hold onto the handle because it is hot!
- Let the cheung fun cool for a few minutes before rolling it up.
- Use one or two bench scrapers to lift the noodle sheet from the bottom of the pan, and start rolling up the cheung fun. Use the scrapers to help you transfer it to a plate.
- Continue cooking the remaining cheung fun, making sure to grease the steaming tray and stirring the batter before each batch.
- Serve the cheung fun with sweet soy sauce, red pepper flakes, toasted sesame seeds, and chili oil, if you like.
Alternative Cooking Method
- Place a steaming rack in the center of a wok. You want to use a wok that is at least 14-inches wide so that it is easy for you to place and remove an 8×8 pan from the wok. Fill the wok with water, enough so that the water level is just below the steamer rack.
- Cover the wok and bring the water to boil. You can leave the steaming rack in the wok as the water boils.
- Lightly brush an 8×8 square baking pan with oil. Pour just over 1/3 cup of batter to cover the bottom of the pan. Scatter some cooked mushrooms about 1 inch above the bottom edge. Then, scatter a pinch of scallions and cilantro over the rest of the pan.
- Uncover the wok and carefully lay the 8×8 pan over the steaming rack. The steam can be scalding hot, so using oven mitts is helpful here. Cover the wok and steam the noodle for 2 minutes. Ues oven mitts or a towel to remove the pan. Let the cheung fun cool for a few minutes before using a scraper to roll it up.
- Enoki, shiitake, and nameko mushrooms are also great alternatives. Some dim sum restaurants also throw in wood ear (木耳) or similar types of plant fungus.
- Sweetened soy sauce recipe: Mix 1/2 cup hot water, 2 tablespoons sugar, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil. Taste and add another half or full tablespoon of soy sauce, if necessary.
- Don’t overcook the rice noodle sheets as they can crack. This becomes an issue if you leave the noodle sheets in the steamer box or wok for over 5 minutes.
- Don’t pour the batter onto a steaming tray or square pan until you are just about ready to steam the rice noodle sheet. You’ll notice that if you leave the raw batter on the steaming tray for too long, the flour starts sinking to the bottom.