Slurp It Up: Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

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Lucky Rice, the New York–based festival series, shines a spotlight on Asian culinary culture. Think night markets, hawker centers and all things street food. Festival founder and newly minted cookbook author Danielle Chang rounded up the best of the best in this cookbook named for the festival, a must-read for every fan of noodles, fiery chilies, deep-fried things on sticks, all manner of squid and, of course, rice. Try these hearty Taiwanese beef noodles on for size, and don't be afraid to slurp

If Taiwan has a national dish, it is beef noodle soup, which is found everywhere from night markets to traditional dining halls. At beef noodle soup shops, the vendors tend to their enormous cauldrons with great affection, as if raising a child. These are master soups that are never emptied, but only added to — more bones, more onions — to build on yesterday's flavors. I love the idea of a broth that intensifies over time, the way a wok benefits from being properly seasoned over time and through use.

This Taiwanese version of the classic Chinese beef noodle soup is "red-braised" (slow-cooked in soy sauce). The recipe is adapted from my grandmother's favorite: the soup served at Taipei's Yong Kang Jie Beef Noodles, a hole-in-the-wall joint that is now a "must" destination on every foodie's list of where to eat in Taipei.

Tip: My kids are fans of pho, the Vietnamese beef noodle soup, so I'll sometimes adapt this recipe by using broad rice noodles instead of the wheat noodles. Both beef-based soups are slow-simmered, flavored with aromatics like star anise and peppercorns, and hearty and belly-warming.

Reprinted with permission from Lucky Rice

Slurp It Up: Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup
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to 8
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds beef shank
  • 1 pound beef tendons
  • 6 large slices fresh ginger
  • 9 garlic cloves
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3 small fresh red Thai chilies
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 medium Roma tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chili bean paste (doubanjiang)
  • 1 cup Shaoxing rice wine
  • 4 star anise pods
  • 1 tablespoon crushed Sichuanese peppercorns
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 pound leafy greens
  • Black vinegar
  • 2 pounds Asian wheat noodles
  • Fresh cilantro (leaves and stems)
  • Scallions (light green and white parts)
  • 1 pound fresh mustard greens
  • sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  1. :::pickled mustard greens:::
  2. In a large pickling jar, pack a tight layer of the leaves and sprinkle the leaves liberally with sea salt. Repeat the layers, packing firmly, until the jar is full. Cover the mustard greens with water, and then add the vinegar (to prevent mold) to top off the jar. Cover it tightly, and shake it a couple of times so that the vinegar is evenly distributed throughout the jar.
  3. Let the jar sit, unrefrigerated, for at least 3 days; the amount of time it takes to pickle will vary according to the temperature — anywhere from 3 days in the summer heat to 10 days in the winter cold. The greens are ready when they have turned completely brown. Drain the water from the greens and transfer the greens.
  4. :::soup noodles:::
  5. In a large pot, heat one tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat. Add the beef shank and tendons and cook until browned all over, about 15 minutes. Transfer the beef to a bowl and set aside.
  6. In the same pot, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the ginger, garlic, onion, and chilies and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and tomatoes and continue to cook until the sugar has dissolved and the tomatoes have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chili bean paste and continue to cook for an additional minute.
  7. Return the browned meat and tendons to the pot. Add the Shaoxing wine, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the star anise, crushed peppercorns, soy sauce, and about 2 quarts of water. Bring the liquid to a boil; then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook, occasionally skimming any fat and debris off the surface, until the meat is meltingly tender, about 2 hours or longer for the tendons.
  8. Transfer the beef shanks and tendons to a cutting board. Strain the soup through a colander into a clean pot, and discard the solids. When the beef and tendons have cooled, chop both into 1-inch slivers and add the meat to the strained broth. Bring the broth back to a slight boil, add the greens, and simmer just until tender. Season the soup with black vinegar and additional soy sauce to taste.
  9. Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to the package directions, and drain them. Divide the noodles among large soup bowls, and pour the soup over them. Serve the mustard greens, cilantro, and scallions on the side, so each diner can pile them on in whatever order and amount they like.
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