This rich soup is flavorful and hearty. Our version of this Taiwanese red roasted (or braised) beef noodle soup is made of stewed beef shanks, aromatics, beef broth, vegetables and noodles. When meat is braised with soy sauce, Chinese call hong shao, or red roasted. What makes a good niu rou mian (beef noodle soup) are the tender meat with a good balance of fat and tendon, flavorful broth and the “Q” texture (toothsome) of the noodles. For variations, sometimes we will char 2 onions and simmer them in the broth for a darker, sweeter flavor or season the broth with Taiwanese shacha sauce 牛頭牌沙茶酱. This is optional, wrap 1 1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns in cheese cloth and add to the broth. Jesse’s not a big fan of Sichuan peppercorns, but I like them and they give an extra savory kick, 鲜度 to the soup.
We love Taiwanese brand soy sauce and bean pastes, which can be purchased at Taiwanese grocery stores and Carrefour in Gubei. Noodles are available and made fresh daily at any local market. Here’s our favorite wet market in the French Concession: Jiashan Market at 328 Jianguo lu near Taiyuan lu (嘉善菜场, 建国西路328号近太原路). Happy Cooking!
2 pounds Australian or Shandong premium beef shank
8 scallions, plus 2 more finely chopped
1 small bunch Chinese greens (青菜，小白菜或青江菜）
2 packages fresh thick noodles (家常粗麵條）
4 ginger, 1″ thick slices
5 cloves garlic
3 red chilies
4 star anise
1 cinnamon stick, 4″ long
1 licorice root stick, 3″ long
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 large white turnip, roughly chopped
1 piece rock sugar, about 2 tablespoons
1/2 cup good aged rice wine
1 cup Taiwanese soy sauce (台灣金蘭醬油）
2 tablespoons fermented bean paste (台灣岡山豆瓣醬）
1 tablespoon spicy fermented bean paste (台灣岡山辣豆瓣醬）
6 cups water
Wash the Chinese greens, finely chop 2 scallions and set aside.
In a large pot, boil beef shanks for about 7 minutes, pour shanks through a strainer and discard the water. Wash shanks thoroughly.
In the same large pot, heat oil over high heat, brown the aromatics: ginger pieces, scallions, whole garlic cloves, red chilies, star anise, cinnamon stick and licorice, about 5 minutes. Then add in bean pastes and saute until your kitchen is filled with the aroma, about 3 minutes.
Deglaze the pot with rice wine and soy sauce. Add the beef shanks, carrot, tomatoes, turnip, rock sugar and water. Lower heat and simmer for 1 hour.
Spoon out the beef shanks and let cool. Slice, against the grain, to 1.5″ thick slices. Put the shanks back into the broth and simmer for another 45 minutes to an hour or until meat is tender but not falling apart. Strain the broth, discard ginger pieces, garlic, tomato skins, carrot and turnip.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the fresh noodles until al dente. In the same pot, blanch Chinese greens for about 10 seconds and strain.
In a deep soup bowl, place cooked noodles on the bottom, ladle in beef broth, beef stock (if you want to go through the trouble: char beef bones and aromatics, slowly simmer for hours to yield an intense beef stock) and beef slices. Top with Chinese greens, chopped scallions and serve immediately.