Mom’s Beef Noodle Soup (牛肉麵 Niu Rou Mien)


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I have been wanting to post my mom’s beef noodle soup recipe for years but can never find pictures anywhere!  Anyone who has tried making decadent, rich soup understands the amount of patience and hours that goes into cooking it.   When the soup is finally ready to be served I can’t wait to eat it so forget about taking DSLR quality pictures!  I also have a vivid memory of my mom yelling at me if I don’t make it to the dining table before she serves my bowl of noodle soup. She meticulously cooks one bowl at a time for each of us, pairing with the specific type of noodle and level of flavor we each prefer.  My mom had a perfect system in the kitchen and every bowl tasted amazing each time.  When I asked her to teach me how to make this soup she gave me vague instructions and said to eyeball the ingredients and seasonings.  I was pretty confused and almost gave up before trying. Then she said practice makes perfect and encouraged me to experiment a little.  So I did that over the years and I am satisfied with my version of my mom’s recipe. Hope you like it too! The measurements in the recipe below are ballpark figures so feel free to add or subtract and taste test as you go.  As someone who loves to bake, improvising while cooking has always been a bit of a challenge but I’ve stop obsessing over measurements when I make this soup 🙂

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Beef bones and brisket are essential for this soup.  This will likely require a trip to an Asian supermarket because I have never seen those ingredients elsewhere.  I use beef brisket and beef bones / bone marrow for the soup. Fresh brisket requires long, slow cooking to break down the collagen in the connective muscle tissues to achieve tenderness.  The broth thickens as the collagen breaks down. If you prefer different cuts of meat in your soup, you can also add short rib but I definitely recommend using some brisket for the soup. The exterior layer of fat, known as deckle, that is connected to brisket is what makes the soup decadent and rich.  The bones are also essential for good flavor.

Before cooking the soup, bring a large pot of water to boil and soak the raw meat and bones in boiling water for a few minutes. Then transfer to a strainer and run the meat and bones through cold water for a minute.

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I use lots of fresh ginger in this soup.  It helps mask the gaminess of brisket meat. You want to slice fresh ginger into 2-3 inch pieces and use a mallet to smash them a little to extract the juices.

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Stir-frying the ginger, meat, and bones are key to getting all the flavors in the meat. I also add some spicy black bean sauce for flavor.

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Saute the meat for about 5 minutes or until the soy sauce steeps into the meats.

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If you are able to saute the ginger, meat, and bones together that’s great.  I don’t have a pan/wok big enough to fit everything so I usually do this in steps.  Sometimes the bones come with a little bit of meat attached so it’s important to season and saute the bones as well.

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Transfer all the ingredients to a large pot and add water just enough to cover the meats and bones. Add two stalks of green onions and a five-spice pouch for soup. Patience is key for this recipe.  There is no exact time for when the soup is ready.  I recommend simmering with the lid on for 2-3 hours at a minimum or even longer if the brisket has not tenderized. I typically let the soup cool down and then refrigerate it after it cools down for a day before serving it.  The flavors are more prominent when I wait a day or two before serving.

When the soup is ready to be served you can begin prepping the noodles and seasonings to go with it. Seasonings, toppings, and noodles depend on personal preference.  I experimented a few times before finding the right balance of flavors and my favorite type of noodle.  If the broth is too salty, you can always add some water from the boiling pot used for cooking noodles (a bit starchy compared to just regular water).

Makes about 6 servings

2 lb beef shank (also called banana shank), cut into 50 g pieces
2 lb beef oxtail
4 large pieces of beef bones
150 g fresh ginger, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp broad bean paste (with chili is optional)
10 Tbsp soy sauce (more or less depending on taste)
1 tsp white pepper
4 Tbsp rice wine
2 stalks of green onions, halved
1 five-spice stew pouch (this can be found at Asian markets; the five spices are star anise, ground cinnamon, szechuan peppercorn, fennel seeds, and cloves; you will need about 12 grams total of these spices combined)
2 chilis (optional)

Seasoning/Toppings per bowl:
100 g noodles (I get these from 99 Ranch supermarket but there are tons of choices for noodles)
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sesame oil
1 stalk of green onion, chopped
cilantro, chopped
spinach / bok choy / other greens

Making the broth:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Boil brisket and bones for a few minutes until the meats turn brown. Then transfer to a strainer and run cold water through it for a minute
  2. Slice fresh ginger into 2-3 inch pieces and smash gently with a mallet to extract the juices
  3. In a large skillet under medium heat, add 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil, salt, and saute the ginger for a 2 minutes. Then add 2 Tbsp of broad bean paste
  4. Add brisket (and bones if it all fits in the pan) then add 6 Tbsp of soy sauce and 1 tsp of white pepper and saute for about 2 minutes.  Then add 4 Tbsp of rice wine and saute for another 2 minutes.  If the meat looks lighter than my picture above, add a few more tablespoons of soy sauce until the meat darkens
  5. Transfer everything including the sauces (don’t miss any!) from the skillet to a large pot.  Add just enough cold water in the pot so all ingredients are submerged
  6. Add two stalks of halved green onions, a five-spice stew pouch, and chilis (optional) to the pot. Bring the pot to boil then turn the heat to low and simmer with the lid on for at least 2 hours
  7. Let the broth cool down before refrigerating

Making noodle soup:

  1. Prep all seasonings listed above, blanch vegetables, and set aside
  2. In each bowl, add salt, black pepper, and sesame oil
  3. Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the noodles according to package instructions (I recommend under cooking slightly as they will soften in the broth)
  4. Transfer the noodles to the bowl, add some broth and top with beef, vegetables, green onions, cilantro, chilis and other ingredients of your choice


Almond Panna Cotta



I’ve tasted many different variations of panna cotta. I have seen it covered in syrup, fruit, nuts, and sometimes all of these ingredients and more. My preference is a plain almond panna cotta with a few pieces of fruit and some good honey or just the panna cotta by itself! This is an easy dessert to make ahead as long as you have space in the refrigerator to store them. You don’t even need to bake these so your oven can be used for cooking other dishes if you are having a party.

The trick to a perfectly executed panna cotta is consistency. The challenge is using the right amount of gelatin and right type of cream. Going overboard on the gelatin results in a rubbery and sticky texture. Seem familiar? On the other end, too little gelatin will yield a wobbly and watery panna cotta. Some recipes use half and half with milk but I prefer using heavy whipping cream to make panna cotta.

Although ramekins are great for serving this dessert at home, I also find these 9 oz solo cup perfect for making panna cotta. You can even get lids to cover these cups if you want to take them to a party. I typically make small portion sizes of panna cotta because its quite a rich dessert.  You’ll realize this when you make them but we all deserve a delicious treat sometimes!

On a side note, I noticed that my Instagram button on the top right corner has been broken since I changed my username but it’s been fixed! Happy New Year and hoping to share more recipes with you in 2016 🙂


Makes around 15 panna cotta cups* (9 oz solo cups filled 1/3 of the way)

4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 c sugar (100g)
2 tsp pure almond extract
3 tsp gelatin
6 Tbsp cold water

1. In a large bowl, add cold water then sprinkle gelatin over the cold water.  Let it stand for 8 minutes.
2. Heat heavy cream and sugar in a medium pot over low to medium heat. Stir constantly until sugar completely dissolves.
3. Add vanilla extract to the mixture and stir. Remove the pot from heat before the cream mixture begins to bubble.
4. Pour heavy cream mixture over gelatin and stir with a whisk until combined.
5. Divide mixture into cups or ramekins and chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours** or until panna cotta is set.

* Use half of this recipe to make 6 individual 4oz ramekins filled about 3/4 of the way.
** The timing will depend on the size of your cups and refrigerator temperature. When I fill these 9 oz solo cups 1/3 of the way, it takes about 2 hours for the panna cotta to set.

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red velvet cupcake-2

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