Beef noodle soup
|Place of origin||China, Taiwan|
|Main ingredients||Beef, beef broth, vegetables, Chinese noodles|
|Cookbook: Beef noodle soup Media: Beef noodle soup|
|Beef noodle soup|
|Literal meaning||beef noodles|
Beef noodle soup is a Chinese and Taiwanese noodle soup made of stewed or red braised beef, beef broth, vegetables and Chinese noodles. It exists in various forms throughout East Asia and Southeast Asia. Beef noodle soup was first created by the Hui people (a Chinese Muslim ethnic group) during the Tang Dynasty of China.
In the North American Chinese communities, this food can be found in Taiwanese and Chinese restaurants. In China, a large bowl of it is often taken as a whole meal with or without any side dish. In Taiwan, vendors that sell beef noodle may also have optional, often cold side dishes, such as braised dried tofu, seaweed, or pork intestine. Beef noodles is often served with suan cai (Chinese sauerkraut) on top, green onion, and sometimes other vegetables in the soup as well.
In Chinese, "牛肉麵" literally means "beef noodles". Mainland Chinese and Hong Kong restaurants may have a tendency to distinguish between "牛肉麵" "beef noodles", and "牛腩麵" "beef brisket noodles"; with the former containing either beef shank or beef slices and the latter containing only brisket. It is sometimes served with wontons. In Taiwan, "牛肉麵" typically consists of either brisket or shank only, though many restaurants also have tendon or a more expensive option with both meat and tendon ("半筋半肉麵", literally "half tendon half meat noodle") and occasionally with tripe; 三寶麵, literally "three-treasure noodle", usually denotes a bowl containing all three. If one orders "牛肉湯麵" or "beef soup noodles" in a restaurant in Taiwan, Mainland China, or Hong Kong, they might be given a cheaper bowl of noodles in only beef broth but no beef. If one orders a "牛肉湯" or "beef-soup", they could be given a more expensive bowl of beef broth with chunks of beef in it but without noodles. In Tainan, beef soup (牛肉湯) denotes a distinct and local specialty, where sliced beef is blanched in hot soup and accompanied by shredded ginger.
Beef noodle is often served as fast food in China, with Mr. Lee being the largest chain. In Taiwan it is sometimes considered a national dish and every year the city of Taipei holds an annual Beef Noodle Festival, where various chefs and restaurants compete for the "best beef noodle" title in Taiwan. However, some Taiwanese (particularly the elderly generation) still refrain from eating it. A traditional reluctance towards slaughtering precious cattle needed for agriculture, and an emotional attachment and feeling of gratitude and thanks to the animals traditionally used for very hard labour. Due to influences from the influx of out of province Chinese from mainland China in the early 1900s, the Taiwanese version of beef noodle soup is now one of the most popular dishes in Taiwan.
There are two common variations of beef noodle which differ in the way the broth is prepared.
Braised Beef Noodles
When soy sauce is added, the soup is called red roasted or braised beef noodles (紅燒牛肉麵). Braised beef noodles was reputedly invented by KMT's Sichuan Province recruits who fled from mainland China to Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Therefore, it is sometimes incorrectly referred to as "Szechuan Beef Noodle Soup" (四川牛肉麵). The red braised beef noodles is the most common type of beef noodle in Taiwan. The beef is often stewed with the broth and simmered, sometimes for hours. Chefs also let the stock simmer for long periods of time with bone marrow; some vendors can cook the beef stock for over 24 hours. This type of beef noodle tends to be spicy, as garlic, chili oil, doubanjiang or five-spice powder may be added. There are several variations with the soy-based broth, such as spicy, tomato, garlic, and herbal medicine. The tomato variation (番茄牛肉麵) is popular in Taiwan and features chunks of tomatoes in a rich red-coloured tomato broth with or without soy sauce . The herbal medicine variation is usually served without suancai as a topping (as its acidic properties are believed to inhibit medicinal properties) and may be accompanied by a chili paste made from beef lard.
Clear Broth Beef Noodles
The Chinese Muslim style of beef noodles is also known as clear-broth or consommé-stewed beef noodles (清燉牛肉麵). It often uses halal (清真) meat and contains no soy sauce, resulting in a lighter taste that may be flavoured by salt and herbs. In Lanzhou, China, Lanzhou Beef Lamian (Simplified Chinese: 兰州牛肉面) is usually served with clear soup and hand-pulled lamian noodles. In halal restaurants, only quality local beef from the Taiwanese zebu (黃牛, lit. "yellow cattle") prepared by the local halal butcher is used for the beef noodles.
In Thailand, kuaitiao nuea pueay is a similar dish. In Vietnam, Bò Kho is a beef stew sometimes served with noodles (or bread as an alternative), that is similar to Taiwanese braised beef noodles.
Yaka mein is a type of beef noodle soup commonly found in Chinese restaurants in New Orleans. It consists of stewed beef, spaghetti noodles, hard-boiled egg and chopped green onions, with Cajun seasoning, chili powder or Old Bay-brand seasoning.
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