Any Taiwanese kid who grows up and then moves away from home at some point yearns for a bowl of their mom’s niu rou mien or Taiwanese beef noodle soup. This was actually my second (successful) attempt at niu rou mien, but sadly the first time was before I started this blog and therefore I didn’t quite remember everything I did. I think the first time was better, but that was because a) Erin came over and made hand-made noodles and b) I hiked it all the way to Chinatown to get mustard greens and beef shank & tendon. This time I used store-bought noodles, did without mustard greens, and settled for just beef chuck. It tasted right and was still good, but was just missing the extra things that make it truly like mom’s. So here’s what I did, next time I might even try to make it in a slow cooker (which would make the chuck more tender), and will make sure to have mustard greens and tendon.

Niu Rou Mien (Beef Noodle Soup) – adapted from here

  • 3 lbs boneless beef shank or chuck
  • 1.5 – 2 lbs beef tendon
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 2 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, cut into 1/3-inch-thick rounds, each smashed with flat side of knife
  • 3 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili bean paste (Sichuan hot bean paste; dou ban jiang)
  • 1/2 cup (or more) soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) salt
  • 5 whole star anise
  • 2 1 1/2-inch cubes Chinese yellow rock sugar (about 2 1/2 ounces) or 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • Freshly ground white pepper or black pepper
  • 1 pound eggless Chinese wheat noodles (Shandong la mian)
  • Chopped mustard greens
  • 3 baby bok choy, each halved lengthwise, bottom 1 1/2 inches trimmed, rinsed
  • Chopped fresh cilantro (for garnish)
  • Chopped green onions (for garnish)

Directions:

If using shank: Bring large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add beef shank; return water to boil. Reduce heat. Simmer until beef is brown on outside, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes; drain. Rinse beef under cold water until cool; cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes. Wipe out pot.

Heat 1/4 cup oil in pot over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic. Sauté 1 minute. Add chopped onions; sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add chili bean paste; stir 30 seconds. Add 12 cups water, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons salt, star anise, and sugar. Mix in beef. Bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Gently simmer uncovered 1 hour, adjusting heat to avoid boiling.

Continue to simmer soup until beef is very tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Adjust seasoning, adding more soy sauce by tablespoonfuls and more salt, if desired. Season with pepper.

Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions. Drain well.

Divide noodles among large soup bowls. Add some bok choy and mustard greens to each. Ladle soup and meat over. Garnish with chopped green onions and cilantro.

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