Slippery noodles in ice cold soup, served with various healthy toppings, cold soba noodles in beef broth is a perfect dish to cool you down in hot weather.
It has been very hot in England in the last few days. Everyone in our Red House has been craving something cool and refreshing for dinner. I dug up a recipe from my food-related memories of China and presented one of my favourite summer dishes: Cold soba noodles in beef broth (Yanji cold noodles 延吉冷面).
It’s a speciality of the Chinese-Korean minority population living in Yanji city(延吉), Jilin province in the North-east of China. Because of its unique flavour, beautiful presentation and popularity across the country, cold soba noodles in beef broth is considered to be among the top 10 Chinese noodle dishes.
The beef broth: tasty & cool
Unlike many other Chinese cold noodle dishes which are served with dressing, this Chinese-Korean style noodle dish is served in a cold, spiced beef broth. It’s a pretty simple process to make the broth but it takes at least a hour to cook the beef chunks. Usually I prepare it the night before. Then leave it in the fridge overnight.
In some Chinese restaurants, you can get ice cubes in the broth for this cold soba noodle dish. I do like the coolness but don’t really fancy the idea that the tasty broth is diluted by water. To achieve a similar effect, I place the broth in the freeze for a short while until ice fragments begin to form.
Before serving, add white rice vinegar, sugar and salt to the broth. This is to provide a nice sour taste with a hint of sweetness.
The soba noodles: elastic & slippery
In the authentic version, soba noodles are used for this dish. They are brown-coloured, thin noodles made from buckwheat flour (gluten-free) or a combination of buckwheat and wheat flour. They have a nutty flavour and an elastic texture. Dried soba noodles are widely available both in mainstream supermarkets in the UK and Chinese / Asian stores.
It’s worth noting that you need to “wash” the cooked noodles under running water in order to get rid of most of the remaining starch. This way the noodles will be smooth and slippery, a perfect texture for a cold dish.
The topping: colourful & healthy
The broth is cooled and the noodles are “washed”. Now let’s place a rainbow topping to complete this wonderful cold soba noodle dish.
- Thin, tender slices of beef. When cooled in the fridge the beef chunks go harder thus it’s very easy to cut them into thin slices. An extra tip: If you can’t finish all the beef slices, keep them in the fridge then serve as another dish with a little Homemade Chilli Oil).
- Slices of crunchy fruit. Apple and Asian pear (aka Nashi pear) are the classic choices.
- Julienned cucumber (skin-on and seeds-in).
- Boiled egg. You can cook it in your preferred way, soft boiled or hard boiled.
- Kimchi. It’s a type of salted, fermented vegetable (it mainly consists of Chinese / napa cabbage) very popular in Korean cuisine. It has a savoury, sweet and spicy taste.
- Red chilli paste. It’s a Korean spicy condiment known as Gochujang.
- Sesame seed.
Cold soba noodles in beef broth (延吉冷面)
For braising the beef
- 500 g beef shank or beef brisket, cut into large chunks, 18oz
- 1200 ml water, 5 cups
- 2 stalks spring onion, finely chopped
- 1 thumb-sized ginger, sliced
- 1 star-anise
- 1 small piece cassia cinnamon
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp Sichuan peppercorn, optional
- 1 pinch fennel seeds, optional
- 3 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tsp white rice vinegar
- ½ tbsp rock sugar or regular sugar
- 1 tsp salt
For each bowl of broth
- 4 tsp white rice vinegar
- 1 pinch sugar
- 1 pinch salt
You also need
- 170 g dried soba noodles, 6oz
- 1 egg
- ½ apple, sliced
- 200 g cucumber, julienned, 7oz
- Kimchi, to taste
- Red chilli paste, aka Gochujang, to taste
- 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
- Blanch beef in boiling water then drain. In a clean pot, add beef, water, spices and seasonings. Bring water to a boil then leave to simmer for 1-1.5 hours.
- When completely cool, place beef and broth (discard spring onion, ginger, spices and the fat floating on the surface if there is any) in separate containers. Store in the fridge for at least 1 hour (see note 1).
- Cook soba noodles according to the instructions on the package. Drain and rinse under running water to cool fully.
- Meanwhile boil egg. Peel and halve it.
- Pour cooled broth into two large serving bowls. Add vinegar, sugar and salt. Cut the beef into thin slices (see note 2).
- Place the noodles into two bowls. Top with beef, egg, apple, cucumber, kimchi and red chilli paste. Sprinkle sesame seeds over.
If you are experiencing hot weather as we are these days, I hope this cold soba noodle dish makes you feel cooler.