The Taiwanese takes great pride in their beef noodle soup, and they should. I’ve been tinkering with the recipes and trying to come up with the one that is not too complicated to make but yet still have that authentic taste to it. I think I’ve found a keeper
I can’t help but to wonder sometimes, how my life would be like if I’ve never decided to apply that student visa 17 years ago and came to the U.S. for college, then work, then packed up and went back home for good (so I thought!) only to be moved and transplanted here again…permanently! It’s been quite a journey if I think about it. A journey that has grown me by leaps and bounds as a person. I now realized how difficult it must be for my parents. I was only 17 years old when I left home for the first time. My kids are still very young at this point, but I do ponder upon the possibilities of them being so far away from me after they are old enough to decide things for themselves. These are the things that I do realize only parents would understand.
Where am I going with this post ? well, eventually I’ll talk about the Taiwanese beef noodle soup, I promise you that ! I know that’s what you’ve been eyeing. Through my journey being far away from home that I’ve came across so many people. People who have somewhat shaped me into the person I am today. I told Mr. G that I could never let me kids study abroad and being far away from me. But I do realize at the same time, I’ve learned so much about life from that experience. Experience that is not covered in textbooks. Food is one of the things that has been a great part of this experience. I probably wouldn’t have tasted so many different cuisines from all over the world if I would stay close to home. Well, there are many multicultural restaurants nowadays, but I believe being exposed to different cultures during my “young” adulthood times have helped to open up my mind to the varieties. This Taiwanese beef noodle soup is one of my most favorite food since college time. I remember this one small Taiwanese eatery near campus that served REALLY good Taiwanese food. My sister and I often went there for lunch or dinner. If you haven’t seen this Taiwanese beef noodle soup all over the www and pinterest…well, now you know this thing exists! and for very good reason! To please your heart and soul.
The Taiwanese takes great pride in their beef noodle soup, and they should. I’ve been tinkering with the recipes and trying to come up with the one that is not too complicated to make but yet still have that authentic taste to it. I think I’ve found a keeper. So, you would ask what so special about this beef noodle soup ? The beef noodle soup is flavored with great aromas from star anise, bay leaves, ginger and seasonings that are commonly used in Chinese cooking such as dou ban jiang or known as broad bean paste and the Taiwanese BBQ sauce. These last two seasonings to me really make (or break) the soup base! Without these two, I’d say don’t even bother to make it. I’m serious ! Another special thing about this noodle is, it is usually eaten with pickled Asian mustard greens.
So, there you have it…savory, somewhat spicy, slightly tangy with a hint of sweetness. I usually bought a canned pickled mustard greens, but I decided not to and make my own this time and they are so easy to make and gosh…I would definitely not eat this noodle without the pickled mustard greens. All in all, give your taste buds some chance. If you don’t like it spicy, you can always adjust the seasonings. I like it the way it is but we all have different preference and there’s nothing carved in stone when it comes to cooking. Experiment with it and you might find yourself crazy about this Taiwanese beef noodle soup! who knows! 😉
Taiwanese beef noodle soup (4-6 servings)
- 3 lbs of beef short ribs cut into 3-inch chunks
- Cooking oil
- 3 tsp of brown sugar
- 1 large onion peeled and halved
- 8 stalks of green onions remove roots and halved
- 3- inch knob of ginger
- 3 star anise
- 4 fresh bay leaves or 6 dried bay leaves
- 4 cups of hot water you may not need all of them
- 1 cup of store-bought low-sodium beef broth
- 1 Tbsp of rice vinegar
- 1 lb of Asian noodles of your choice flat rice noodles, thick wheat noodles, or linguine/fettucine is a good choice too
- 6 Tbsp of dou ban jiang Chinese broad bean paste
- 2 Tbsp of Sha Cha jiang Taiwanese BBQ sauce
- 1 cup of Chinese rice wine
- 4 stalks of spring onion finely chopped
- Pickled Asian mustard greens recipe below
How to make pickled mustard greens: (if you choose to make your own)
- 1 lb of mustard greens - stemmed and chop into 1-inch pieces if you can't find Asian type, use regular mustard greens are very similar too
- 2 cups of water
- 1/2 cup of vinegar
- 4 Tbsp of brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp of salt
- 2-3 red or green Thai chili optional
Making your own pickled mustard greens
Packed the chopped mustard greens in a 1 quart-size glass jar. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add in vinegar, brown sugar, and salt and stir to make sure sugar is dissolved. Pour this brine into the glass jar. Gently push the mustard greens down to make sure it's submerged in the brine. Once everything cool down, it's ready to use. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week
Preparing base stock and the noodle soup:
Preheat dutch oven or any heavy-bottom pot. Separate the beef into three batches. Add in 1 Tbsp of oil and put in first batch of the short ribs chunks and 1 tsp of brown sugar. Let the sugar caramelized and the beef browned on all sides. Do not overcrowd the pot or the beef will not brown nicely. Repeat until you are done browning all the beef. Place the beef in a large platter and set aside for now
Place the onion (cut-side down) on the open fire on stove-top. If your stove is electric, you can char the onion in the oven. Add another 1 Tbsp of cooking oil into the pot you use to brown the beef earlier. Add in the charred onions, green onion stalks, ginger, star anise, fresh bay leaves and stir fry until you smell nice aromas, about 5 minutes
Add in the seasoning ingredients and stir fry for another 2 minutes. Add the browned beef into the pot and stir to mix everything. Pour in the hot water just until enough to cover the beef. Bring back to boil and once it boils, lower the heat, cover the pot and let it cook for the next 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until the short ribs are tender and you can easily pull it apart with fork. I actually need almost 3 hours to get to this point. So, observe yours
Once the beef is ready, carefully pick the beef out from the pot and place them back on the platter. Strain the soup base into another clean pot and discard the rest of the solid. Add 1 cup of good quality store-bought beef broth and rice vinegar into the pot, bring it back to a boil and have a final taste. It should be savory, somewhat spicy, and just a hint of tartness..just a hint, not too much
When ready to serve, cook the noodles of your choice to al dente. Rinse the noodle with water, portion it out into serving bowl. Add pieces of beef, pickled mustard greens and ladle the broth over the noodles generously. Topped with some spring onions and tuck in !
Recipe Notes1. You may try to use brisket cut into large chunks instead of short ribs. My husband prefer brisket to short ribs. I found short ribs are really good for this dish
2. Both dou ban jiang and Taiwanese BBQ sauce can be easily found at most Asian grocery store.
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