Beef noodle soup 牛肉面

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Since winter has come, days are shorter. It’s getting dark so early now. It always feels like 9 o’clock in the evening when I start preparing dinner. I have also started eating more spicy than in summer. I love spicy food, but after living in Europe I eat less spicy.

Friends from the Netherlands will laugh if they see I wrote “I eat less”, because they were once really crying by my table. For this depressed winter weather, eating spicy food will make you start sweating and it will feel like after doing exercise.

Beef noodle soup with soft meat, a rich broth and vegetables: it is warm, healthy and classic. It has always been popular in China, you can find it everywhere. Normally people eat it for breakfast. There are also noodles, porridge, soy milk, steamed buns or dumplings for breakfast in China.

Nowadays beef noodles is not only for breakfast, many noodle restaurants quite often are like Chinese fast food; fast to cook and also healthy. Some of those restaurants open 24 hours a day.

It is not difficult to make beef noodle soup, you only need a little bit of time and enough herbs.

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What we need:

  • Beef chuck (for stews)                       500g
  • Star anise                                           2
  • Laurel herb (or bay leaf)                     2
  • Black cardamom                                  1
  • Cinnamon                                             1 stick
  • Sichuan pepper                                    1sp (you can replace it with white pepper)
  • Mandarin peel                                      2-3 pieces
  • Chilli sauce                                           1sp (I use sambal to replace Sichuan chilli sauce, it is not spicy but salty)
  • Dark soy sauce                                     1sp
  • Light soy sauce                                     2sp
  • Shaoxing wine or rice wine                   2sp
  • Monocrystal sugar                                6 pcs (if you don’t have any, you can use 1 spoon of ordinary granulated sugar)
  • Garlic                                                    4 cloves
  • Fresh ginger                                         4 slices
  • Spring onion                                          3
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How to make it

Cut the beef into pieces of 4x4cm, the put all in a soup pan. Add all herbs and sauces, then add 80 or 90 cl water. Heat on high fire until is starts to boil, then turn to small fire and let it simmer for 2 hours.

Cook noodles and place them in a bowl, add meat and soup.

Garnish with half a boiled egg and some greens. Add some home made chili oil if you dare!

Steamed sticky pumpkin balls

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In Chinese tradition, we don´t eat dessert after the main dish. We believe that eating sweet things after dinner will be difficult to digest.
But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have desserts. During big events or festivals, we make special snacks or food. The kind of food depends on which festival, like Mooncakes for the Moon Festival.

Sticky rice (glutinous rice) is used quite often for making desserts in southern China. Desserts made by sticky rice can be steamed, deep fried or cooked in a sweet soup.
Today I am going to make steamed sticky pumpkin balls, because now is the pumpkin season (okay, it’s a little late, I know.)

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What do we need

- pumpkin (peeled)                       500g
- sticky (glutinous) rice powder     400g
- sugar                                          50g
- grated coconut                           10g

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How to make it

First peel the skin of the pumpkin and cut into thin slices, so that they are easy and fast to steam.
Then steam 15 minutes until soft.
Take the steamed pumpkin and place in a big pot. Add sticky rice powder, stir good until it becomes like dough.
Roll small balls of around 4x4cm, then put them in a steamer and steam for 6 or 7 minutes more.
After the sticky balls cool down, brush a little water on them, and roll them in grated coconut.

TIP: You shouldn´t eat too much glutinous rice, because it is difficult to digest. If you have made too much dough, you can freeze it, but first make balls of it. Later you can steam them and sprinkle with grated coconut.