Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

I fell in love with this soup while cooking with my friend Weldon. We were practicing hand-pulled noodles and this soup was the dish they went into. It is rich, unctuous, full of umami, and a perfect vehicle for many kinds of noodles. Whether you are interested in making your own noodles or buying them, make this soup. You will not be disappointed.

Boozy Epicure's Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup
I wish I could say I'd been to Taiwan, or eaten this soup anywhere in Asia, but I haven't. The recipe is inspired from several sources online, as well as my time cooking with Weldon, but I've really gone and adapted the flavors to suit me and the ingredients I had on hand.

Vegetable oil
4 beef oxtails, a little over 2lbs.
2 lbs of beef with bones: Traditionally beef shank, I used beef oxtails today. You basically want meat, bones and marrow since this is the flavor base for your soup.
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 large nub of ginger, roughly chopped
2 scallions, roughly chopped
2 whole star anise
2 whole cloves
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tomato, roughly chopped
2 tblsp Chili Bean Sauce: I couldn't get my hands on this, so I subbed 1.5 tblsp black bean/garlic paste, 2 tsp of sriracha and a dash of fish sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup shaoxing rice wine
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
4-6 cups of water
half ounce dried mushrooms
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 carrot, sliced

Serve with:
fresh or dried noodles, boiled and prepped
1 bunch baby bok choy - blanched in your soup

First set of veggies, prepped and ready.
Start prepping your vegetables while browning your beef in a little vegetable oil in a large pot. When the beef is browned on all sides, remove it to a side plate and add your onions, scallions, ginger, garlic, star anise and cloves to the pot. The veggies will start to soften as well as deglaze some of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Beef oxtails, browned and waiting.
First round of vegetables softened.

My arsenal of faves.

Once your first batch of veggies have softened, add the chopped carrots and tomatoes. Cook for a minute or two, then add your chili bean paste (or in my case, bean sauce, sriracha and fish sauce) and the beef back to the pot. Stir to coat everything and cook for another minute or two before adding in the soy sauce and shaoxing rice wine. Stir to coat all of the ingredients then add enough water to cover. Add the peppercorns and bay leaf, bring the soup up to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 2-4 hours, until the beef is falling off the bone tender and the veggies are very soft. I like to put the pot in a 325 F oven for 3 hours, it heats up the house less and I think it cooks more evenly.

Once it's done, remove the meat, and shred, discarding the bones and excess fat. I also like to strain the soup and chill it down. Makes it much easier to remove the excess fat from the top. Both of these steps can be seen as fussy though, the fat on top is incredibly flavorful, and some people love the taste of the soft veggies. I prefer to add a new carrot once the soup is strained. It's up to you, although I find the broth plenty rich without the extra fat, and I think a strained soup is more refined once you put the beef, noodles and garnishes in the bowls.

To serve, bring the stock up to a low boil with the last sliced carrot. Once the carrot is soft, toss in your bok choy to blanch in the soup while you plate. Place your cooked noodles in a bowl, add the shredded beef and pour the hot stock over the top, place a blanched bok choy, and garnish with fresh chopped scallions if you like.

Slurp and enjoy!

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