THIS rich soup is flavorful and hearty. Our version of this Taiwanese red-roasted (or braised) beef noodle soup is made of stewed beef shanks, aromatics, beef broth, vegetables and noodles.
When meat is braised with soy sauce, Chinese call it "hong shao", or red roasted. What makes a good "niu rou mian" (beef noodle soup) are the tender meat with a good balance of fat and tendon, flavorful broth and the "Q" texture (toothsome) of the noodles.
Sometimes we char a couple of onions and simmer them in the broth for a darker, sweeter flavor or season the broth with Taiwanese shacha sauce (台湾沙茶酱). This is optional: wrap 1 1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns in cheesecloth and add to broth. Jesse's not a big fan of Sichuan peppercorns, but I like them and they give an extra savory kick (鲜度) to the soup.
We love Taiwanese brand soy sauce and bean pastes, available at Taiwanese grocery stores and Carrefour in Gubei. Noodles are available and made fresh daily at any local market. Here's our favorite wet market in the former French concession: Jiashan Market at 328 Jianguo Road near Taiyuan Road. Happy Cooking!
2 lb (0.9 kg) Australian or Shandong premium beef shank
8 scallions, plus 2 more finely chopped
1 small bunch Chinese greens (青菜，小白菜或青江菜)
2 packages fresh thick noodles (家常粗面)
4 ginger slices, 1" thick
5 cloves garlic
3 red chilies
4 star anise
1 cinnamon stick 4" long
1 licorice root stick 3" long
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 large white turnip, roughly chopped
1 piece rock sugar, about 2 tbsp
1/2 cup good aged rice wine
1 cup Taiwanese soy sauce (台湾酱油)
2 tbsp fermented bean paste (台山豆瓣)
1 tbsp spicy fermented bean paste (台山辣豆瓣)
6 cups water
1. Wash the greens, finely chop 2 scallions and set aside.
2. In a large pot, boil beef shanks for about 7 minutes, pour shanks through a strainer and discard water. Wash shanks thoroughly.
3. In the same pot, heat oil over high heat, brown the aromatics: ginger pieces, scallions, whole garlic cloves, red chilies, star anise, cinnamon stick and licorice, about 5 minutes. Add bean pastes and sauté until your kitchen is filled with the aroma, about 3 minutes.
4. Deglaze the pot with rice wine and soy sauce. Add the beef shanks, carrot, tomatoes, turnip, rock sugar and water. Lower heat and simmer 1 hour.
5. Spoon out the beef shanks and let cool. Slice, against the grain, to 1.5-in thick slices. Put the shanks back into the broth and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until meat is tender but not falling apart. Strain the broth; discard ginger pieces, garlic, tomato skins, carrot and turnip.
6. Bring pot of water to a boil and cook noodles until al dente. In the same pot, blanch greens for about 10 seconds and strain.
In a deep soup bowl, place cooked noodles on bottom, ladle in beef broth, beef stock (separate process: char beef bones and aromatics, slowly simmer for hours to yield an intense beef stock) and beef slices. Top with Chinese greens, chopped scallions and serve immediately.