Hong Shao Niu Rou Mian

Hong Shao Niu Rou Mian

A feature on the Asian-must visit culinary map, Taiwanese dishes aren’t
generally renowned for their incendiary spiciness. This slow-cooked
pot of blistering beefy broth with noodles may just change that.

You’ll find ‘beef noodle soup’ throughout Asia, but Taiwan has made this dish its own by localising the ingredients and spicing it up several notches. Beef consumption wasn’t big here before 1949 so it’s likely the recipe was brought to the island by mainlanders fleeing China’s civil war. Spicy stewedbeef noodle soup has existed in China since the Tang Dynasty (AD 618–906). It was popularised by members of the Hui, a Chinese Muslim ethnic group known for hand-pulled noodles.

You’ll need
1kg (2lb) beef chuck roast, cut
into 4 chunks
3 tbs canola oil
1 tsp Chinese five spice
8 cloves of garlic, finely
2cm (¾in) piece of fresh
ginger, sliced
5 spring onions (scallions), cut
4 dried star anise
2–4 tbs Sichuan peppercorns
3–4 red chillies, split
¼ cup (60mL) chilli bean
¼ cup (60mL) rice wine
6 tbs light soy sauce
2 tbs dark soy sauce
5 cups (1¼L) water
1 bok choy cut into large
500g (1lb) thick Chinese egg

Cooking Method
1 Season the beef with salt. Heat the oil in a pot, add the beef and sear it on both sides.
2 Add all remaining soup ingredients, except for the bok choy and noodles. Bring to a boil, skimming fat from the top as necessary. Lower the heat and simmer for about 2 hours.
3 Take the soup off the heat and uncover the pot to allow the steam to evaporate and the broth to become more concentrated as it cools.
4 When the broth has cooled, remove the meat and set it aside.
5 Strain the broth into another pot, discarding any solids, then reheat the broth over a medium heat.
6 Cut the meat into 1cm- (1/2in-) thick pieces before returning it to broth. Add the bok choy.
7 Cook the noodles in separate pot of water until cooked to the desired texture. Strain and place in individual bowls.
8 Ladle over the broth, meat and bok choy.

Tasting notes
So readily available is this dish in Taiwan that most take its complexity for granted; but as any chef will attest, making good spicy beef noodle soup is complex and time-consuming. Is it worth it? Yes! The secret lies in the process of heating and cooling, allowing the broth to concentrate a very diverse list of ingredients into a unified, spicy – and uniquely Taiwanese – flavour. Good spicy beef noodle soup tempts the tongue without burning it, the anise and five spice offering a rich, savoury counterpoint to the fiery Sichuanese chillies. The beef is flavoursome and tender enough to pull apart with chopsticks, and is often served with chilliinfused dark vinegar mixed with soy sauce.

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