Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Taiwanese Beef Soup

Yet another try- this time with a recipe from one of the Wei-Chuan cookbooks. This one serves six people. Start by heating a few tablespoons of peanut oil in a pot and stir frying:

  • 3 green onions cut in 1" sections
  • 3 slices of fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic

When the mixture is aromatic- it should smell like a good Chinese restaurant- add the following, one at a time, stirring while adding:

  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons bean paste (from a Chinese grocery)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons hot bean paste (Chinese or Korean)
  • 3/4c soy sauce

Now add:

  • 2 lbs fat marbled beef, cut in 1-1/4" chunks
  • 2 Tablespoons cooking wine or sherry
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 star anise flowerlets

Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Cook for at least an hour, or two if necessary- the beef must be very tender and falling apart. The liquid should reduce to about 1-1/2 quarts (six cups).

You can do this in advance- the day before if you like. To serve, you'll need a pound of Chinese noodles and a pound of green vegetable. Gai Lan (sometimes called Chinese broccoli) is a good choice, but I used baby Bok Choy, which I quartered lengthwise.

Boil enough water to cook the noodles. Blanch the vegetables in this water for a minute, and then remove them and cook the noodles. Don't discard the cooking water- you'll need it.

To serve, place the following in each bowl:

  • a dash of hot chili oil
  • a little pepper
  • a portion of the vegetable and the noodle
  • a portion of meat and a cup of broth
  • A cup of the water you cooked the vegetable and noodles in

Verdict: It's pretty good, but I think I can do better.

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