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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Shanxi braised beef noodles ( soup )

My first encounter with beef noodle was the sticky version of sliced beef with gluey sauce and laksa noodles. Then while working in Taiwan, I ate the Taiwanese version from Kaoshiung to Taipei, addicted to the rough hand hewn chunks of beef brisket in herb stock and uneven handmade noodles , which recipe was jealously guarded.

Recently, I chanced upon this knife-shaved beef noodles in the basement food court of Great World City where the Chinese chef made a great show shaving slivers of flour into a pot of boiling water. The chunky beef broth with dried flowers and black fungus was the most unique beef soup I have ever eaten.

Well, and that is what I am trying to recreate here. My latest and most favorite version of beef noodle is a staple dish in Shanxi, according to my research. I have been eating bowls of noodles from that stall and here's my reproduction, as true to the taste as possible.

It looks like a lot of work but frankly, it was the slow cooker that did most of the chore. Even for a lazy cook like me, I find this level of complexity acceptable.

Stock :

500g of beef brisket in generous chunks, scalded with hot water
3 slices of liquorice root
3 star anise
1 T mirin or rice wine
1/2 stick cinnamon
2 thin slice ginger
2 T miso or fermented beanpaste
1 T fine sugar or rock sugar
1 T superior black soy sauce
1 T light soy sauce

( Adjust the portions of ingredients according to personal preference )

Handmade noodles :
300g plain flour
170g cold tap water

Other ingredients :
Black fungus, soaked and hard parts removed
Dried golden flowers, soaked with woody parts removed
Bok choi
1 C Bean sprouts

Put the ingredients listed under " stock " in a slow cooker. Add adequate water to cover ingredients and cook in high power for at least 3 hours, until beef is very tender. Add fungus, flowers into slow cooker the last 10 min before cooking noodles.

When stock is ready to eat, prepare noodles by mixing flour and water in a bowl until it turns shiny. Shave slivers off the dough with a sharp knife over boiling water. Alternatively, roll dough out on flat surface and cut into strips. Cook noodles , vegetables and sprouts in this order.

Ladle 1 C of the beef soup into a serving bowl before adding the cooked noodles / vegetables. This prevents the noodles from sticking . Top noodles with another ladle of beef chunks and soup.

Garnish with parsley,chopped chilli.

Complete the experience with a
mustard pickle as a side dish.

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