Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Homemade Beef Noodle Soup 牛肉麵 Recipe
Being Taiwanese-American, I am ashamed of not knowing much about Taiwanese cooking. Sure, I can enjoy a night on the town eating through a Taiwanese night market, but I don't know how to prepare much of what I see. Food, je t'aime did a great write-up and photo entry on Taipei's Shilin Night Market (士林夜市). So when my friend Stephen offered to make me some of his famous beef noodle soup, I jumped at the chance and asked if I could watch him prepare it too.
Since there are so many variations on beef noodle soup, no recipe can be definitive. Stephen told me his family recipe was no secret. In fact, I called my mom and she told me she had her own recipe as well but never taught me. You may notice that this recipe does not have any units of measurement. If you're making beef noodle soup, it's likely that you'll have had it before and can determine your own proportions of ingredients by taste. If you haven't tried it before, does it really matter how accurate the taste is? Just adjust to your preferences.
This recipe is best made a big potful at a time. Good for several servings and several days. It may even freeze well.
Two Onions (we used red, but I don't think it matters)
Beef Shortrib (although most beef noodle soup involves beef shanks, Stephen insisted that the better cut of meat made a better soup. Also, the long cooking time probably compensated for lack of bone for a proper stock.)
Flour Noodles (we used a Korean brand, but you can substitute however you wish)
Imperial Spice Packet 滷味香 (this is where most non-Chinese cooks may run into a snag. Stephen got his from Taiwan, but I've seen equivalent packets in Chinatown. It's a combination of spices, most importantly star anise, cloves, cinnamon used for braises.)
Imperial Spice and Noodles
Stephen's simple recipe involves the use of every dorm-bound, college student's best friend, a slow cooker.
1. Chop the onions and slice the beef into large cubes.
2. Brown the beef with the onions and some garlic.
3. Quarter the tomato. Combine the beef, onions, garlic, tomato in the slow cooker. Cover with a combination of soy sauce, rice wine, water and a dash of oil. Pop in two or three spice packets.
4. Put the slow cooker on low and leave it overnight. Your kitchen will smell delicious.
5. For lunch the next day, fry the napa cabbage or any type of hearty, leafy green. Strain out the onions and garlic from the broth. They were there just for flavor. Cook the noodles separately in clear water. If you cook the noodles in the broth, the starch will thicken the soup and you'll have a hard time making multiple batches.
6. When the noodles are al dente, strain, place in bowl. Add the broth and cabbage. Garnish with green onion.
Food, je'taime also coincidentally wrote up her own family recipe here. That should give you an idea of the variation on this common, but popular dish. I don't write recipes too often, but check out my Sticky Rice Recipe too.