niu rou mian: braised beef noodle soup

 
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hi frans! it was finally chilly enough for me to be able to wear my knee high boots today which could only mean one thing: fall season is starting to pick up!!!! and oh, it’s also a trop excellent time to share this niu rou mian recipe that i’ve been working through for the past few weeks.

if you don’t know, niu rou mian translates as nieuUuro: cow + myEn: noodles in mandarin and it has these herbaly umami kick-your-tastebuds flavors that make the first attempt to making a bit daunting, especially without the guidance from a chinese momma.

i had to strip down the recipe as much as possible to make it faster and easier because making it in paris would prove its challenges; first, i’ve been pretty swamped at the office and second: asian ingredients aren’t as accessible here as they are in new york. this recipe also swaps suan cai (pickled greens) out for fresh herbs so you still get refreshing bites with your rich salty spicy beefy oompfy goodness, which is what is the most important! hopefully this simplified version will work in your favor if you’ve been feeling like you’ve been running low on time/energy or find it hard to access all of the ingredients in other recipes that you’ve come across online. either way, you’ll be on your way to fulfill your desires for some deep some beef noodle soup lovin.

sooooo storytime! once i felt confident enough that this recipe was in a good place, i sent it along with some hand cut noodles in ziploc bags to have a final taste test with my chinese friend’s parents visiting from out of town. i made my friend promise to text me back with feedback as soon as his parents tried it. did i pace around in my kitchen with my nerves running on edge? yes. and acing the taste test became so much more important now.

instead of a text, i got a call back and here’s how it all went down:

friend: dude, my mom was so impressed at how authentic it tasted

me: wait, you don’t have to lie to me. seriously. what did she actually think?

friend: no really. she said that it tastes like the real deal

me: *kicking my feet into the air* YESSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

after putting in the energy to get this recipe right, i reflected and learned that there isn’t just one particular way to make niu rou mian. i got sucked into the google black hole and came back discovering that there are dozens of variations; ones that have a clear broth, ones that use spaghetti noodles, ones that come with tomatoes, ones that hail from honshao…the list goes on!

the point is, if this korean-american can pass a chinese mom’s test with an uncomplicated and easy recipe, you’ll most likely get the essence as well!

xo, christine

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niu rou mian

ingredients

broth

3 pounds beef shank bones cut into half-palm sizes

12 cups water

1 tablespoon kosher salt

braised beef sauce

5 tablespoon soy sauce

3 tablespoon xiao xing cooking wine

2 tablespoon la jiao jiang (roasted chili pepper paste)

1 1/2 tablespoon chianking vinegar

3 tablespoon cane sugar

1 tablespoon three crabs fish sauce

5 star anise pods

2 cinnamon sticks (2 inches each)

1 tablespoon freshly ground cumin

1 ground peppercorn

1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

3 cups water

braised beef

2.5 pounds beef flank cubed in quarter palm sizes

1 tablespoon kosher salt

3 stalks of green onions rough chopped

1/2 yellow roughly diced

6 cloves smashed garlic

3 thumb sized ginger slices

2 red chili peppers rough chopped

1 tablespoon cooking oil

noodles + bok choy

4 servings hand cut noodles or your noodle of choice

4 medium sized baby bok coy

1 tablespoon kosher salt

herbs for garnish

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 cup chopped scallions

notes

broth

  • wash bones in cold water + add to stock pot and add 4 cups water. bring up to a high boil for 5 minutes and discard water. add 8 cups of new water to pot, add salt, and bring up to a medium boil for 10 minutes. reduce heat to low and skim fat and oil periodically for 1-2 hours. taste broth and add more salt as needed.

braised beef

  • salt flank cubes and set aside for at least 20 minutes before cooking

  • mix all braised sauce ingredients in a medium bowl, set aside

  • bring large sauce pan up to a medium high heat, add cooking oil and sautee green onion, onion, garlic, ginger, and red peppers for 2-3 minutes. add flank cubes and sautee until all sides are evenly brown

  • pour braised sauce into sauce pan and cook down for 1-2 minutes. add water, bring down down heat to low, and simmer slowly for 1 -1.5 hours

  • once flavors have melded and the braised sauce has a nice herbaly kick, use a slotted spoon to remove all the softened herbs and vegetables

noodles + bok choy

  • when bone broth and braised beef flavors have melded after an hour or so, boil 4-5 cups water, add salt, and boil bok choy for 7-8 minutes until tender. using the same water, cook your noodle of choice.

niu rou mian assembly

  • in a serving bowl, lay noodles and bokchoy at the base

  • layer on a few cubes of braised beef

  • ladle 1 1/2 cups bone broth into bowl. if you’re into extra credit, you can also add the bones with marrow to the dish as well.

  • spoon 1-2 tablespoons of braised sauce over beef

  • garnish with cilantro and green scallions

  • ENJOY!

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