In light of my recent posts on our trip to Taiwan and Singapore (part 1 and part 2), I thought I’d share a popular Taiwanese comfort food recipe called Beef Noodle Soup. It’s one of Steve’s favorite things to eat, like ever, and although mine is probably not as good as his mom’s he definitely loves this version too! There are many varieties and recipes for this dish, just as there are many versions of chicken noodle soup. Some broths are light and clear, some are thicker and spicier. For the first few years after we got married I was making a “quick” version of this…a few spoonfuls of hot and sweet bean paste and canned broth sufficed, but we had a small apartment and anything beyond that was just too cumbersome. This version is far superior. It is simple and broth-y, but with a dark complex flavor that gets it’s kick from fresh Thai chilies. Letting the broth sit overnight before eating lets the flavors meld. I adapted this recipe from a few others out there, but you can always add or take away ingredients as you like.
Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup Serves 6 – 8
For the soup
- 4 pounds bone-in beef shanks, sliced to about 1.5 inches thick
- 5 garlic cloves, smashed or chopped roughly
- 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
- 5-6 scallion cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1-2 tomatoes, quartered
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 4 – 5 whole star anise
- 2 Thai chilies – leave the seeds in for more spice or take it out for less. I sliced this length-wise and left seeds in.
- 2 tablespoons hot bean sauce/paste – available at Asian markets
- 1/2 cup Chinese (Shaoxing) rice wine
- 3/4 cup of soy sauce
- 10 cups water, or enough to cover beef – or you can also use some beef or chicken stock mixed in
- Salt and pepper to taste (I used Hawaiian sea salt and white pepper)
- baby bok choy, napa cabbage or some other Asian greens, blanched
- 1 pound Chinese wheat or rice noodles, boiled according to package www.genericpropeciabuyonline.com/avodart.html directions (keep them a little al dente)
- Chopped fresh cilantro and extra sliced Thai chilies
- Take the beef shanks and cover with water and bring to a boil. This is important…when it comes to a boil, turn off heat and drain the shanks. This par-boiling makes for a cleaner-tasting broth.
- Take the par-boiled beef, garlic cloves, ginger, scallions, tomato, five spice powder, brown sugar, star anise, chilis, hot bean sauce, rice wine, soy sauce, stock and/or fresh water to a boil in a large pot. I didn’t have any beef stock but I had some chicken stock lying around so I just used a few splashes of that.
- After it boils, reduce heat, and simmer for approximately 2 hours, or until the beef tender and falling apart. Turn off the heat and shift the lid to allow steam to escape. Let meat stand in the cooking liquid for another hour.
- Remove the beef shanks and bone (you can eat the marrow now if you like!) Pour the remaining stock through a sieve or cheesecloth into another pot. Discard the veggie solids and remnants. Place the beef back into the new pot of stock and let cool and refrigerate overnight. After refrigeration, remove the solidified fat with a slotted spoon.
- Before serving, bring the pot of stock and beef back to a boil. The beef should be falling apart so you don’t need to take it out cut it. You can add additional seasoning at this point. I added a chopped tomato, white pepper, and some Hawaiian red alea sea salt (I love this stuff!).
- To serve, blanch the veggies and cook the noodles to desired doneness. I usually under cook the noodles a bit as it cooks a bit more as hot broth is ladled in and I like my noodles very al dente. Divide noodles and bok choy among bowls. Ladle the beef and hot broth into the bowls. Garnish with chopped cilantro and/or more chilies. Enjoy!