When your sick, you just want soup. When I’m sick, I want spicy soup. Lots and lots of spicy soup.
D and I went to a Taiwanese noodle house in Rockville about a month ago when I was about three weeks into a cold turned sinus infection. I needed something warm, spicy, and broth-y. I needed noodle soup. I had my fill of pho, since our current apartment is a 5 minute walk to Pho 14. I had my fill of chicken noodle soup. But what I really really wanted was spicy beef noodle soup. And after scouring the interwebs for a spot, we came across A&J Restaurant in Rockville, MD.
When you first walk in, you’ll notice how quiet the place is. Then you’ll notice how clean it is. Then you’ll notice that everyone’s speaking to you in Chinese. This was THE place. They hand you a paper menu, and a laminated menu. The paper menu is where you mark your selection, and where they tally your total at the end of your meal. It serves as your check. It’s a cash only place but it’s worth it. We ordered chicken and rice, spicy beef noodle soup, and pork dumplings. Our total was $24 and some change. We had leftovers too!
Two days later, I was craving that same soup. But instead of getting a car and driving to Rockville, I walked to the grocery store and bought a few things, after I researched what actually goes into Spicy Beef Noodle soup, of course. After grabbing beef shanks, stew meat (to off set the priciness of the beef shanks), green onions, baby bok choy, and Chinese five spice powder, I walked home and got to work.
I pretty much followed this recipe found here, from The Kitchn. With the exception of Thai chilis (I didn’t have any so I substituted it with dried arbol chilis), soy sauce (I limited the soy sauce to 3/4 a cup instead), and water to stock ratio (I added a cup more chicken stock for flavor). I also added whole peppercorns and a little bit of sesame oil to the broth. Ohhh, and I threw all of this into a slow cooker. Yup. 5 hours on low in a slow cooker turned this concoction of ingredients into a beefy, broth-y, and spicy melody. Nom nom nom. Best modification ever, especially if it’s a week night and you just want to come home to an already made meal. (DON’T PUT THE NOODLES IN THE SLOW COOKER THOUGH. VERY BAD IDEA. VERY BAD.)
Spicy Beef Noodle Soup
- 3-4 pounds beef shanks with bone still in (or beef short ribs) – I bought 1.5lb of beef shanks and added stew meat to make it budget friendly
- 5 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
- 1 bunch scallions, cut in 2 inch slices
- 1 plum tomato, quartered
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 4 – 5 whole star anise pods
- 2 Thai chilis, split lengthwise – Again, used dried Arbol chilis, about 2-3
- 2 tablespoons chili bean sauce – I didn’t have chili bean sauce but I did have Sambal Oelek which is chili bean paste
- 1/2 cup Chinese (Shaoxing) rice wine
- 1 cup good-quality soy sauce – I only used 3/4 cup
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken stock – I added another cup of broth
- 10 cups water, or enough to cover beef
- packet of Chinese egg noodles, cooked to directions on the package
- baby bok choy, cooked
- sliced green onions and cilantro for garnish
I boiled the beef shanks similar to the recipe from The Kitchn. However, I added a tablespoon of salt to the water to season the meat. About a few minutes before boiling, I added my cubed stew meat to the beef shanks. Once the water was boiling, I drained the pot and started working on the broth.
Everything pretty much went into the slow cooker – the beef, garlic cloves, ginger, scallions, tomato, five spice powder, sugar, star anise, chilis, chili bean past, rice wine, soy sauce, chicken stock, and water. For added flavor, I also added about 1-2 tablespoons of sesame oil to the broth. I set the slow cooker for 5 hours on low and let the broth do it’s thing while I worked. Yippee! Multitasking!
Once the 5 hours was up, I removed the beef from broth and lazily shredded it. Not completely shredding the beef, but shredding the beef into solid small chunks that could be easily eaten. I didn’t find the need to pour the stock through a cheesecloth to remove the seasoning chunks. I just used a ladle or spoon.
To serve, I cooked the Chinese egg noodles in boiling water – about 5-10 minutes. I also blanched the baby bok choy in the same boiling water. After those two things were finished, I added some noodles to a bowl, piled it on with some of the beef, freshly cut green onions and cilantro, and then ladled hot broth. The rest, well, it’s now in my tummy.
‘Til the next time.