Monday, December 8, 2008

Beef Noodle (Soup) and Lu Dan

My mom is the best cook I know, and I'm not just saying that because she's my mom. Not only doe she make some awesomely impressive dishes for potlucks and the like, she also makes awesome everyday dishes just for us, and the best thing is, she's self-taught. One of the dishes that my brother and I always demand she makes when we're home is niu rou mian, or Taiwanese beef noodle soup. Actually, the translation is a little misleading because it's not exactly niu rou tang mian (tang means soup in Mandarin). The dish my mom makes doesn't have a whole lot of soup (although you could just add beef broth if you wanted, I suppose), it's more like a healthy amount of sauce.

One change I made to her recipe is that I used chuck beef instead of beef shank because I'm not a big fan of all the jing, which is the chewy gross stuff that is probably tendons and junk that other people seem to really like. So yeah, if you like that junk, use beef shank, which comes out much more tender, or maybe that's just because my mom made it.

Niu Ro Mien

My Mom's Taiwanese Beef Noodle (Soup)

makes 6 servings

2 scallions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 star anise
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 lbs. chuck beef (or beef shank) cut into 3/4" pieces
1/2 cup rice wine
1/2 cups soy sauce
1 1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons rock sugar or brown sugar
1 tomato, skinned and roughly chopped (optional)
1 lb. angel hair pasta
1 small head napa cabbage, washed and cut into 3" pieces

In large saucepan, saute the first four ingredients the oil for 2 minutes. Add the beef and cook until just browned.

Add the wine, soy sauce, water, and sugar, and tomato (if using) and heat to boiling. Reduce to a simmer and cook with the lid on for 1-2 hours (1 hour is enough for chuck beef, may need 2 hours for beef shank).

Fifteen minutes before beef is done, boil water in a large pot. Add pasta and cook while stirring occasionally for 3 minutes. Add napa cabbage and cook for 2 more minutes. Drain off most of the water.

Divide the noodles and cabbage among 6 large bowls, adding a little of the excess hot water. Add the beef on top and ladle in some of the sauce (making sure to remove the star anise).

Another Taiwanese food I really like is lu dan, or soy sauce braised eggs. In Taiwan, these are so common you can get them at the ubiquitous 7-Elevens, but it's darn near impossible to find them here unless you make them yourself. Since I had a large amount of soy sauce mixture left from making the beef noodles, I decided to make some. (Note: these are different form cha dan, or tea eggs, in that 1) there is tea in the braising sauce for tea eggs, and 2) the egg shells are not completely removed for making tea eggs.)

Lu Dan

Soy Sauce Braised Eggs

1) Add eggs to a pot of cold water. Bring the water to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 12-15 minutes. Transfer eggs to a bowl full of cold water to cool.

2) Once eggs are not hot to the touch, peel them.

3) Heat the soy sauce mixture leftover from beef to boiling. Reduce to a simmer and add the peeled eggs. If the level of the liquid does not cover the eggs, make sure to rotate the eggs throughout the braising process. Braise for 30 minutes.

That's it! You can probably braise the eggs in a straight mixture of soy sauce, water, and sugar (i.e. without braising beef or some other kind of meat in the liquids first), but for some reason, I've only had them cooked in a mixture that had first been used to cook something else. Hmmm, maybe it's because it's a Taiwanese thing, and we're kinda cheap and efficient like that. =P

1 comment:

  1. That soup looks hearty and nutririous. I love these kind of family recipes that you can trust to always be delicious - this seems like no exception!