I have no idea how authentic this dish is, or even from what country it might hail. I didn't ask for its passport - hell, I didn't even have a recipe. I simply assembled a bunch of stuff I like and started cooking.
The result? A big, BOLD, beautiful soup/noodle bowl that is sure to warm up even the chilliest of days.
Spicy Asian Beef Noodle Bowl:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound of lean beef sirloin, cut into small cubes
- salt and pepper
- one 14 1/2 ounce can of vegetable broth
- 4 cups low-sodium beef broth or stock
- 1/2 of a medium onion, peeled
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 whole star anise
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns, white or black
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili garlic paste/sauce
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 teaspoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 cups of peeled, cubed yellow turnips (rutabaga) cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 small shallot, peeled and sliced
- 8 - 10 large shitake mushroom caps, thinly sliced
- 1 cup of fresh baby spinach
- 8 ounces of cooked udon or soba noodles (I used whole wheat udon)
- some chopped fresh scallions for garnish
Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed soup or stock pot. Dust the beef cubes with a bit of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. When the oil is hot, but not yet smoking, add the seasoned beef to the pot and saute, to brown on all sides. Remove beef from pot, place in a small bowl, cover and reserve in the fridge.
Drain any excess fat from the pan and return the pan to the stove. Add the vegetable and beef broths to the pan, along with the onion, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, star anise, peppercorns, chili garlic sauce, honey, unseasoned rice wine vinegar and toasted sesame oil. Stir well to combine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan and allow the mixture to come to the boil - then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
Remove from heat and strain the broth into a large bowl though a fine mesh sieve to remove the solids and spices. Discard solids, return the broth to the pot and place over medium high heat. Add the carrots, turnip, and shallot to the pan, along with the reserved beef cubes. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the turnips are tender and cooked through out.
Meanwhile, brown the sliced shitake mushrooms in a cast iron skillet or some such pan. Once browned, add them to the soup.
Have ready some cooked udon or soba noodles. Just before serving, add the baby spinach to the soup and stir to wilt, about 1 minute. To serve: place some noodles in the bottom of a deep bowl and over them, ladle the finished soup. Garnish with some chopped fresh scallions, serve and enjoy!
Additionally, you might also choose to garnish this soup with some chopped fresh cilantro and a wedge of lime. As written, this recipe will serve 4 to 5.
The inspiration for this dish came from a meal I had at a local pan-Asian place that's long, long gone. I can no longer remember if they used turnips or sweet potatoes in their soup, but I love turnips, so there you go. If you don't, feel free to substitute the sweet potatoes.
Alternately, you could make this a vegetarian meal, by eliminating the beef and using all vegetable stock. I think it would be delicious.
This bold soup has a really nice, well rounded flavor. The warmth of the ginger, cinnamon and anise really enhance the broth and the carrots and turnips absorb all of that yummy goodness. There's a nice hit of heat on the finish, due that chili garlic paste, but its subtle and altogether pleasant. If you really like things hot, go ahead and add a bit more chili paste to your bowl as you serve.
This is a luscious and healthy meal in a bowl that's just perfect for these bitter mid-winter days. If this doesn't warm you up, I don't know what will. I hope you'll try it!