Tombee loves noodles in soup and I'm always trying to come up with new combinations and recipes since I hate eating the same thing twice. This is a dish that I definitely would not mind eating twice however as the broth is extremely rich and flavourful and the beef brisket is meltingly tender. I made handrolled noodles (which I'll post tomorrow) because only the chewy texture of handrolled fresh noodles stand up to the meaty broth. This was good but not quite the same as the ones in restaurants. I'm not sure how they get the perfect balance of a beefy soup with the right notes of star anise, soy sauce, and chili peppers. I may have added a bit too much soy sauce since the taste was quite prevalent. Overall though, the spice notes in the broth added a subtle layer to the soup and will more than do in a pinch if you are really craving Taiwanese beef noodle soup.
Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup adapted from Lox, Stock, and Barrel
1.3 lbs Chinese beef brisket, cubed
2 scallions chopped into large pieces & extra for garnish
4 slices of ginger, smashed
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup chinese cooking wine
8 star anise
10 cardamom pods, crushed
12 whole black peppercorns
3 fresh or dried chili peppers
2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns, toasted
10 cups beef broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon five spice powder
2 tablespoons hot bean sauce
2 tomatoes, cut into quarters
3 carrots, sliced into 2" chunks
3 hard boiled eggs
Handrolled fresh noodles
Pickled mustard greens (garnish - optional)
1. Rinse the beef and then blanch in boiling water for a couple minutes until the beef stops giving off grey residue. Strain, discard the water, and rinse the foam off the beef.
2. Smash the garlic cloves and ginger with the flat side of a large knife. Stir fry the scallions, ginger, and garlic cloves in oil for approximately 1 minute until they are fragrant and softened.
3. Add the wine and boil for 30 seconds. Add the star anise, cardamom, sichuan peppercorns, dried chili, and whole peppercorns. Be careful not to boil off all the liquid when you are adding the spices; if you need more time, then turn the burner or remove the pot from the heat.
4. Add the water or stock when the mixture is cool. Add the beef, 5 spice powder, hot bean paste, bean paste, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs*, soy sauce, sugar, and salt. Bring to a slow boil. If more foam rises to the top, then skim the soup as necessary.
5. Once the mixture has come to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cook for 2 and a half hours until the beef is meltingly tender. Add carrots and cook until carrots are soft.
6. Taste and adjust more soy sauce if the mixture is not salty enough. At this point you can either serve it now or put it into the fridge overnight so that the fat hardens on top and you can scoop it out. I scooped out about a cup of solidified fat but the fat does add a smoother mouthfeel to the soup so it's your choice.
7. If you are serving right away, you can choose to scoop out the beef and carrots and pass soup through a sieve so that all the spices are removed and you are left with only the broth, beef and carrots. When ready to serve, place noodles in bowl. Ladle beef and soup over noodles. Sprinkle with green onions or chopped pickled mustard greens and serve hot.
*If you'd like a tea egg design, crack egg shells in various places and add to the soup with the shell on. When the soup is finished cooking, peel the eggs and they should have a beautiful marbled design and should be infused with the beefy taste of the soup.