A bowl of noodles in a well-spiced broth topped with tender beef cubes, spicy beef noodle soup is pungent, fragrant and very comforting indeed.
Cold winter days are approaching! Here in our Red House everyone is craving something hearty and comforting for dinner. I bought some nice cuts of beef the other day and cooked beef noodle soup in two ways. One with light, clear broth for the children and another with lots of spices for the hot food lovers in our house. If you are also looking for a dish to warm you up, don’t miss today’s recipe: Spicy beef noodle soup (香辣牛肉面).
Choose marbled beef cuts
To make a bowl of delicious beef noodle soup, first you need to find the ideal cut of beef. Generally speaking, the cuts which have generous amounts of marbling are great for stew dishes (such as Chinese spiced beef and potato stew). They have a higher fat content thus take less time to cook and deliver a beautiful beefy flavour. I came across an article explaining how to choose the best cuts for beef stew. Have a look if you are interested.
Make a well-spiced broth
In my recipe for spicy beef noodle soup, the beef cubes are simmered in a well-spiced soup. Firstly, briefly fry minced garlic and Sichuan chilli bean paste in a little oil to fully release their fragrance. Then add water and leave it to simmer for several minutes.
When the soup is ready, pour it into the pot filled with blanched and drained beef cubes. Please note that it’s recommended to filter the soup through a sieve to get rid of the remaining lumps of garlic and chilli bean paste.
The last step is to add more spices and herb to the simmering soup. Bay leaf, star-anise, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan pepper and fennel seeds are used to flavour the broth.
However you wouldn’t want them in the serving bowl. I have a tip for you: If available, place the spices in a closed tea strainer while simmering. Later you will be able to discard them easily.
For shooting this recipe, I used dried, flat noodles. Other types of noodles would work well too. If you have extra time at hand, I high recommend you try making fresh noodles from scratch. Here are some homemade noodle recipes:
Do not cook noodles in the broth
For preparing noodle soup, please allow me to repeat one important tip that I’ve mentioned in Chicken meatball noodle soup: do not cook noodles in the broth. The starch coming off the noodles will change the flavour and the consistency of the broth. Instead, you should boil noodles in a clean pot filled with plenty of water.
Add some greens
To make spicy beef noodle soup healthier, you can blanch some leafy green vegetables while cooking the noodles. Spinach, pak choi (bok choy) or Chinese choy sum are great choices.
Spicy beef noodle soup (香辣牛肉面)
For stewing the beef
- 600 g beef, cut in cubes - 21oz
- 2 tablespoon cooking oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoon Sichuan chilli bean paste - see note 1
- ½ teaspoon chilli powder
- 1500 ml hot water - 6½ cups
- 1 thumb-sized ginger
- 2 stalks scallions, cut in sections
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 star-anise
- 1 small piece Chinese cinnamon/cassia cinnamon
- 10 Sichuan pepper
- 1 pinch fennel seeds
- ½ teaspoon sugar
You also need:
- 4 portions noodles - see note 2
- Spinach - or pak choi / bok choy
- Fresh coriander, chopped
Blanch the beef
- Add beef cubes to a pot filled with water, Bring it to a full boil. Remove any impurities that appears on the surface. Drain then put the beef back into the pot.
Prepare the soup
- Heat up oil in a wok (or a deep frying pan) over medium heat. Stir in garlic, Sichuan chilli bean paste and chilli powder.
- Cook until fragrant (do not burn). Pour in 1500ml (6½ cups) hot water. Cover and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.
Simmer the beef
- Through a sieve, pour the spiced soup into the beef pot. Add ginger, scallions and all the other spices (see note 3).
- Bring the soup to a boil then simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours. Once the beef becomes tender cooked, discard the ginger, scallions and spices.
Cook the noodles
- Cook the noodles in another pot with plenty of water. At the end of the process, quickly blanch spinach (or pak choi) in the same pot. Drain and rinse the noodles and vegetable under cold water for a few seconds.
Assemble the dish
- Place the noodles and vegetable in serving bowls. Pour in the broth then place the beef on top. Sprinkle coriander to garnish. Serve immediately (see note 4).
NUTRITION DISCLOSURE: Nutritional information on this website is provided as a courtesy to readers. It should be considered estimates. Please use your own brand nutritional values or your preferred nutrition calculator to double check against our estimates.