For our Chinese New Year-themed dinner this evening I've made a cinnamon beef noodle soup. My inital inspiration was from a small bag of 'China Tunghing Cassia Cinnamon' that a friend picked up from the Spice House in Chicago- it's got a spiciness to it that stands out from other cinnamons. I needed a savory application, and this soup seemed like a good fit. It's a very aromatic concoction- cinnamon, anise, garlic, ginger, chicken stock & beef- which will flavor the air of your kitchen (or if your place is set up like mine, the entire 2 bedroom apartment). I particularly like the vinegar in the broth- it reminds me of steeming bowls of nameless soups I ate in China years ago. And don't forget about the cilantro- it adds a delicious component to the flavor.
This is the second time I've made it and the minor adjustments of using Shanxi vinegar (as opposed to rice wine vinegar) and two different sizes of noodles were definate improvements.
Cinnamon Beef-Noodle Soup
1T veg oil
6 scallions, sliced on the bias every 1/2 inch
1 clove crushed garlic
2T minced ginger
1 1/2 t anise seed
1 1/2t thai chili paste (I use Sriracha)
2t hot chili flakes- more or less depending on desired level of heat
4c chickent stock
1/2 c soy sauce
1/4 c Shanxi vinegar (made from fermented sorghum, barley and other grains...rice wine vinegar can substitute)
2# beef, cut into bitesized chunks
3 oz soba noodles
3 oz thin asian noodles (sorry for the vagueness- I used 'tomoshiraga somen' Japanese noodles this time)
1 bunch of bok choy cut into bite-sized pieces
cilantro for garnishing each bowl
-When your large stockpot is hot, add the oil and then the cinnamon, scallions, garlic, ginger, anise seed, chili paste and hot chilis.
-Stir them around constantly for about a minute and then add the water, stock, soy sauce & vinegar.
-When it comes to a boil, add the beef and reduce the heat to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and stir it occasionally for an hour and a half.
-As that hour and a half comes to a close, separately, boil the noodles according to their packages' instrution. I first added the larger noodles and three minutes later added the smaller ones to the same pot, since their cooking times are different.
-While the noodles are cooking, add the bok choy to the beef broth- it will cook in about 8 minutes.
-Drain the noodles and give them a rinse to remove the extra starch, and then add them to the beef broth.
-Taste to check the seasonings and add salt & pepper as needed.
-Serve in bowls garnished with cilantro.