Friday, April 10, 2015

Chinese Beef Noodle Soup

Whenever I was feeling a little tired and weak when I was a child, my mother would make me Beef Noodle Soup. She would cook beef shanks for hours to make a rich, homemade stock flavored with garlic, ginger and green onions, soy sauce and rice wine. This soup was made to build my blood and I swear it did. My favorite thing about it was that she would add some Rock Sugar and then give us little bits.  Once the broth was done, she would chop up the long cooked beef, add in some noodles, Bok Choy and Shitake Mushrooms and serve it with a sprinkling of green onion and cilantro. It was divine!  

It's been a long time since I had it, so I decided to make it again, but this time I changed things a bit to accommodate my particular dietary restrictions. Instead of soy sauce, I used Tamari and instead of wheat noodles, I used Japanese Buckwheat noodles. But it still had that wonderful rich beef taste that comes from long simmering shanks and gave me instant energy once again. 

Chinese Beef Noodle Soup

2 pounds Beef Shank (with the bone in)
10 cups Water
3 teaspoons Salt
1 2" piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thin
8  green onions, root end removed, bottom half left whole and top green part sliced and reserved
1 small onion, cut in half
4 - 6 Garlic Cloves
1 cup Rice Wine
1 cup Tamari (or Soy Sauce) + more later if desired
2 Tablespoons Sugar (or chunk of Chinese rock sugar)
2 teaspoons Sesame Oil
4 - 5 bunches Baby Book Choy, Stem end removed and cut into bite size pieces
8 - 10 fresh Shitake Mushrooms, stem end removed and sliced or use dried, rehydrated in boiling water 
1 pound Noodles (Buckwheat Soba, Rice Noodles, Wheat Noodles) cooked ahead
1 - 2 Tablespoons Chili Bean Sauce, Chili Garlic Sauce or Sriracha

Place Beef Shanks in a large pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and skim off the foam.  Then add the Salt, Sugar, Ginger, white part of Green Onions, Onion, Rice Wine and Tamari.  Bring to a boil again and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook for about 3 hours or until the beef is soft.  

Remove the beef from the broth, cut it into small pieces and reserve. Take marrow out of the center of the bone and add to the meat. Strain the broth to remove all of the seasonings. Return beef back to the soup. Taste and add more Tamari if desired and Chili Bean Sauce or Chili Garlic Sauce. Bring back to a boil and add the Bok Choy and Shitake Mushrooms. Cook for  3 - 5 minutes.

Put cooked noodles into bowls and ladle soup in making sure there is some Beef, Bok Choy and Mushrooms in each bowl.  Sprinkle with Green Onion pieces and sprinkle and drizzle a small amount of Sesame Oil over each bowl of soup to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Beef is an Earth food and this soup is very good for building blood. The Ginger adds both Earth and Metal. The Garlic, Onion and Green Onion all contribute even more of the Metal Element. The Tamari, Sesame Oil and Shitake Mushrooms and the fact that this is a broth soup make sure that the Water Element is present.  The Rice Wine and Chili Sauce make sure that the Fire Element is present too. Buckwheat Noodles (made for a seed) add more Water, Rice Noodles add more Metal and Wheat Noodles add more Wood.  But even without noodles, this soup is balanced in a Five Element way!

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