When I lived in Taiwan it got a bit cooler after Christmas and street food vendors started producing warming soups. My favourite was an aromatic beef noodle soup made with hand-pulled noodles. My version uses some lovely braising beef from Joe’s farm shop in Sutton Green, who sell free-range locally reared beef and pork. You can buy Taiwanese noodles from many Chinese food shops but egg noodles work just as well. This is perfect for an evening meal when there is a snap in the air.
Red beef noodle soup (serves 4)
1 dessertspoon sunflower oil
6 spring onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 thumb-sized pieces fresh ginger, cut into julienne strips
1 teaspoon crushed Sichuan peppercorns
6 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
500ml fresh beef stock
75ml Chinese rice wine
50ml naturally brewed soy sauce
2 teaspoons grated palm or light brown sugar
500g braising beef cut into small chunks
4 portions ready-made egg noodles, cooked according to instructions
Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Add the spring onions, garlic, ginger and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, cloves, cinnamon stick, stock, rice wine, soy sauce and sugar. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for five minutes.
Reduce the heat, so the mixture is barely simmering and add the beef and cook (lid on) for 35 – 40 minutes until tender.
Divide the hot noodles into four bowls and spoon over the beef and soup serve immediately
Towards the end of the cooking time feel free to add vegetables such as spinach, peas or green beans. Add carrots and other root vegetables a bit earlier.