Thursday, March 19, 2009

Nothing beats a bowl of warm Niu Rou Mien

Back in Seoul, my favourite Chinese restaurant was DTF(short for Din Tai Fung). Like always I would order the Niu Rou Mien, which is Taiwanese Braised beef noodles. It's wheat noodles in a thick beef soysauce broth, with chunks of tender and juicy beef. I'm not sure how long the beef had been cooked but the meat was soft enough to be pull apart easy from my teeth with just a pair of chopsticks.

In Lyon, the closest Chinese food we can get is Vietnamese food. You see, all the Chinese restaurants are usually opened by Vietnamese. The typical names you would see on the menu are Nems (spring rolls with lettuce and mint, dipped in fish sauce), Riz Cantonais(fried rice), Aigre-Douce (Sweet and sour), Poulet à l'ananas (pineapple chicken) or Canard Laqué (Peking duck swimming in sauce). It's like in the States where you see General Tsao Chicken or Beef & Broccoli everywhere.

It was hilarious when I first arrived in France. My french family was so stunned when I told them Nem is not Chinese.
"But they have them in every single Chinese restaurant." That doesn't make it Chinese. For the french, it's the must-have appetiser.

Don't get me wrong. I love Vietnamese food when it comes down to Pho, Bobun and even the nems. I just miss real Chinese and Singaporean food sometimes. And I made Niu Rou Mien for dinner today! Alsolutely delicious with fresh noodles- in this case I got fresh tagliatelle from a low-end supermarket called Leader Price. Oh yeah, blame it on the crisis.

Taiwanese braised beef noodles
  • 2 tablespoons of oil( I used olive oil, that's what I have in the kitchen)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed.
  • 1 inch ginger, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon Lee Kam Kee's spicy(chili) bean paste
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • some cinnamon powder(i guess it's better with cinnamon stick, but i don't have it)
  • 2 Carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 purple radishes, peeled and halved
  • 1 leek, green & white part, cut into 2-inch length (or 3 stalks of scallions if available)
  • 1kg beef for braising, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons of sesame oil
  • 6 tablespoons of Shaoxing wine
  • 1-2 tablespoons of brown sugar

Heat oil in a pot. Add garlic, ginger, chili bean paste, cloves, star anise, cardamom and cinnamon to heated oil. Stir for 1 min.

Add beef to the pot and stir to coat with the spices. Continue to stir until the beef gets brown.

Add all veggies and all seasoning for the sauce. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the beef and veggies.

Bring it to a boil and simmer covered for 2 hours. While simmering, more water can be added if the stew gets too dried.

Top the stew over a bowl of fresh tagliatelle or any kind of Chinese noodles. Garnish with chopped cilantro and spring onions.