9:10 pm - Saturday October 21, 2017

Niu Nan (Beef) Noodle Soup

Niu nan soup is a tendony, slightly more chewy cousin to niu ro mien (the standard Chinese beef noodle soup). Each slab of niu nan is about three pounds, so split this recipe in half and keep half the meat in the freezer, or plan to invite a couple people over to help out. Let’s make one thing clear: there is still no idea what niu nan is called in English. Near as I can tell, it’s a cut of brisket with tendons still attached to both sides. I don’t think Westerners even butcher cows in a way that yields a cut of meat in this form, so there’s no name for it.

You will need: (For one slab of niu nan (about 3 lbs)):

  • 10 slices of ginger (one large knob)
  • 10 cloves of garlic (one bulb, peeled and crushed just til they break open)
  • 1 tablespoon chili sauce (or four Thai chilis, chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon star anise (my stars are all broken, but maybe four whole ones?)
  • four scallions, white parts only, sliced once the long way
  • 1/2 cup rice wine or shao shing wine
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 quart chicken or beef stock
  • 1 quart cold water
  • 1 slab niu nan, whole
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 large daikon, peeled nad cut into large chunks
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 leafy green of your choice (bok choi, spinach, ong choy, a-chai, tong hau, Chinese broccoli, etc.)

Using the sesame oil combined with the vegetable oil, sautee the first nine ingredients (everything above the oil) until fragrant. It should take about five minutes for the ginger and garlic to start browning around the edges. Use the rice wine to deglaze the pan, then pour everything into a large pot containing the stock and water. Immerse the beed in the liquid, bring to a boil, and then turn down to a simmer for four hours. Start checking at the three hour point, and stop simmering when the tendons finally break down to a chewable consistency. It could take awhile.
About an hour and a half into the simmering, add the soy sauce and adjust other seasonings. Don’t worry if the spiciness seems a little too forward at this point; it will mellow out and seep into the meat over time.

Remove the beef and let it cool until you can handle it. Meanwhile, strain the solids out of the broth and adjust the seasoning. Slice the beef against the grain into slices about half an inch thick. Try to have both meat and tendon in each slice. Put the meat back into the strained broth, bring to a boil, and add daikon. Simmer until the daikon are cooked through, then add your leafy greens. When those are done, you’re ready to eat! Serve with white pepper, chili sauce, and cilantro on the side.

Filed in: Beef, Vietnamese Recipes

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