When I was in Taipei three years ago, I had the most memorable spicy red braised beef noodle soup at a hole in the wall place. The noodle shop had three round tables, with roughly 12 chairs, and an old fashioned fan on the ceiling. I could hear the sound of the fan moving in a circular motion on and on as the smell of beef broth permeated the air.
Spicy red braised beef noodle soup was all they sold yet the entire shop was packed with customers with more lining up outside. I recall asking one of the waiting staff for a glass of water. She looked at me like I was an alien and replied, “They sell water at the 7/11 right across the street.” It was an odd experience, but I must admit that the red braised beef noodle soup was shockingly delicious.
After coming back to New York City, I have never had anything as good as that bowl of red braised beef noodle soup. So here I am recreating the beef noodle soup in my own kitchen.
Red Braised Beef Noodle Soup Recipe
Serves 2 to 4 poeple
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours and 20 minutes
For the broth:
1 pound beef shank
3 tablespoons oil, for stir-frying
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
1 onion, sliced
4 slices ginger
3 garlic cloves
2 stalks scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 dried red chili peppers
2 star anise
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon chili bean paste
6 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine
Pinch of white pepper
4 cups boiling water
1 cube yellow rock sugar (sold in any Chinese supermarkets)
2 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tomato, cut into wedges
For the noodle:
16 ounce Chinese wheat noodles
4 Shanghai bok choy
Cilantro for garnish
For the pickled sour mustard
8 ounce pickled sour mustard, soaked in water for 1 hour (sold in any Chinese supermarkets)
Dash of soy sauce
Pinch of five-spice powder
Pinch of sugar
To make the broth:
In a pot of boiling water. Add in the beef shank, and cook over high heat for 10 minutes. Take it out. Then slice it into 2-inch peices.
In a hot pan, add the oil, and Sichuan peppercorns. Cook over low heat until the aroma comes out. Take out the peppercorns and discard.
With the remaining oil, add the onion and ginger, and cook for about 30 seconds until the aroma comes out. Also add the scallions, garlic, cinnamon, red chili peppers, star anise, bay leaf, and cloves. Cook over low heat until the aromatic.
To introduce the seasoning in the pan, add the chili bean paste, soy sauce, rice wine, and white pepper. Stir fry over medium heat until fragrant.
Turn to high heat, add the beef in the pan and stir-fry for about 3 minutes. Pour in 4 cups of boiling water. Put in the yellow rock sugar, carrots, and tomato. Cook over high heat until boiling. Then turn to low heat and continue to cook until the beef is soft and tender.
To make the Pickled Sour Mustard:
Soak the pickled sour mustard in water for 1 hour. Drain.
After 1 hour of cooking the broth, take out 5 tablespoons of beef broth from the top of the pot. Reserve it for the pickled sour mustard
In a pan, add the beef stock, the pickled sour mustard, soy sauce, five-spice powder, sugar. Stir fry over high heat for about 2 minutes. Put aside.
To cook the noodle and vegetables:
In a pot, bring water to a boil, blanch the Shanghai bok choy for 30 seconds. Take it out and set aside.
In the same pot, add the noodles, and boil for about 5 minutes. Drain and run through running water to stop the noodles from cooking. Set aside.
In a bowl, transfer in the noodles, add the broth, and beef. Lastly add in the Shanghai bok choy, pickled sour mustard, and cilantro.