I try to get out of my comfort zone in the kitchen from time to time. It’s easy to get locked into a cycle of chicken thighs, pasta and soup, so every so often you need to call in a rutbuster to get things in line. And, my rutbusters typically come from Asia.
If I were to pick a type of Asian cuisine that I like best, it would be Japanese. Yes, I love sushi, but I also like the noodles and wide use of soy. Chinese is next, followed closely by Korean. I don’t know a lot about Asian cooking, but I’m not afraid to try stuff so I hunt and peck my way through menus when dining out.
I never really thought of Taiwan as having its own cuisine, instead assuming that it was another one of the regional Chinese derivatives. I was wrong, which is not uncommon around here. There is a large Chinese influence on their cuisine, but apparently there is quite a bit of Japanese influence as well, as they were an occupier during the early 20th century. That said, Taiwan has a very specific type of cooking based heavily in seafood, but one of its most popular dishes is beef noodle soup.
My Pinterest wall featured this version of the soup on it for months before I decided to give it a shot. I made this on a Sunday, waiting until the night I served it before cooking the veggies and noodles. Of course this is what happens when you put a bowl of noodles of any sort in front of an Italian girl from Solvay:
WHAT WORKED: The flavors in this soup are sharp and contrasting.
WHAT DIDN’T: I should have fished out the star anise before serving. Those things are not fun to bite into.
EASE OF PREPARATION: Medium to medium-hard. There’s a lot of steps and prep to this one.
BEST FOR: A make ahead dinner for the week or weekend dinner when you have time to invest.
SERVE WITH: A light-bodied beer and plenty of scallions.
Taiwan Beef Noodle Soup
Adapted from Dang That’s Delicious
- 1 1/2 tbsp. light soybean paste
- 1 1/2 tsp. sriracha
- 2 lbs. chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tbsp. canola oil
- 6 green onions, all white parts chopped and 2 green stalks chopped
- 2 tsp. sesame oil
- small piece of ginger (about 1/2-inch), sliced thin
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. soy sauce
- 4 cups of beef broth
- 4 cups water
- 2 tbsp. Chinese rice cooking wine
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 2 star anise (pictured at right)
- Black or white pepper
- 2 baby bok choy, stemmed and chopped
- 10 oz. Taiwanese yang chung or konnyaku noodles
Combine bean paste, sriracha and 3/4 cup soy sauce in a small bowl and set aside. In another small bowl, combine chopped green onion, remaining soy sauce, sesame oil, and pinch of black pepper. Stir together and set aside.
In a Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat, add the oil. When it shimmers, add the white parts of the onion, ginger, garlic, and the bean paste sauce. Stir fry 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the meat, 8 cups of water, broth, 4 cups of water, cooking wine, sugar, and star anise to the pot. When it boils, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the noodles and cook 6 to 8 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and transfer to a bowl.
Uncover the broth, add the bok choy to the soup and cook 1 minute.
Serve the noodles and soup separately and hot.