Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup (niu/ ro\ mian\)

December 13, 2009

  • 1/2 onion: I sliced off the tail (?) end but left it intact at the top part so that the onion pieces can be discarded together later if so desired.
  • 2-3 pieces of whole anise
  • 2 pieces of cao/ guo^ (also known as dried tsaoko fruit, according to the internets...and possibly the same thing as black cardamom)
  • a few bay leaves
  • small hot peppers (if you want it to be spicy), leave whole
  • 1.5 lb beef shank (niu/ jian\): you actually want the full, long piece (parallel to the bone), which you can only buy at Chinese supermarkets apparently, and the smallest/slimmest piece they've got for greater tenderness. The package I got most recently labeled in English as 'Beef Muscle.'
  • soy sauce
  • sugar
  • carrots, bok choy, other vegetables etc.

Blanch the meat, whole, in hot water first, because American slaughterhouses don't let off the blood first. Then, you can either let it cool and refrigerate for later use, or place it into another pot of also hot water. It has to be either hot water if it's hot, or cold water (then bring to a boil) otherwise it messed with the taste of the meat. Don't use too much water here, just enough to cover the meat.

Either way, bring to a boil with the other ingredients up until the soy sauce (include any vegetables that need longer to cook, like carrots). Simmer for about 45-50 minutes. The meat should be cooked and at about the right texture after this, though without any flavor yet.

Let it cool and take out the beef. Slice it up lengthwise first, then cross-wise. This is the key secret step, as a lot of people slice up the meat at the very beginning but then the texture isn't as nice, it would feel more sandy.

(this pot probably has too much liquid in it)

Place beef slices back in the pot and add remaining flavoring ingredients to marinate (soy sauce, sugar). I don't have exact measurements on these yet, but start with about 1/3 cup on the soy sauce and 2 tbsp of sugar. It's safe to taste since the meat's all cooked. The color should be a dark brown and the flavor a little more intense than what you want the meat to end up tasting like.

Bring the stew to a boil again and simmer for 15 minutes or until the meat is tender. Check the soup for taste as well and adjust if needed.

Let the stew sit for at least 2 hours, overnight even if possible. Warm up with noodles and any other veggies desired, like bok choy, etc. This'll keep in the fridge up to 3 days, but cannot be frozen. The soup should be thick enough that it basically congeals in the fridge.