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beef noodle soup

November 5, 2014

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“Here. Drink soup.”

My Ah-ma, my grandmother, my mother.

Over the years, they’ve instilled in me the benefits of soup. More a broth than the chunky, velvety, blended numbers that fill cafe menus in Sydney, but a flavoursome, wholesome liquid nonetheless.

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Pork bones with goji berries, dried ginseng and dates. Stomach with white pepper. Fish bones and heads with fresh tomatoes and ginger. Each one of them served in a small bowl alongside our evening meal. Second bowls if you’re lucky (or if you’re the Bean, for whom my Ah-ma always saves a second bowl).

So when I moved into my own place for the first time a few years back, the one thing I wanted to learn was the art of soup making. A skill that seemed a little trickier than I initially thought.

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“Just put the bones in the water, Cheh. Why do you need to ask some more?”

(Because I don’t know what the herbs are. Or how many bones to put in. Or which bones.)

“You remembered to rinse first, right?”

(Rinse what? Oh dear.)

“You remembered to put this one in or not?”

(Um. Maybe?)

And so, I got to trying it out my own way, making broth every once in a while and freezing the leftovers for a lazy day somewhere down the line.

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It takes a bit of time, this boiling process. You can make a broth in under an hour, if you’re pressed for time, but my favourite broths are those that have been simmered over a long period of time. The bones and cartilage start to break down, releasing collagen, minerals and gelatin into the broth so that as it chills, the soup solidifies into a wobbly jelly.

I’m usually quite good at remembering when I’ve got a pot on the bubble – the smell is usually a decent clue – but can remember at least one occasion when I left for work with a mostly full pot still rolling about on the stove (and a panicked drive back home once I remembered, fearing a burnt down kitchen the whole time).

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I was recently gifted a Billy Boil Thermal Cooker,* and have been using it weekly to make a bone broth with whatever my local butcher recommends me. It’s a little bit smaller than my normal stock pot, but I don’t have to worry about my electricity bill, or leaving the stove on when I absentmindedly head out mid-simmer. As the warmth of Summer starts to hit, I’ve also enjoyed not adding to the heat of our little apartment by having a pot on the stove for hours.

My mum has had a thermal cooker for years and uses it for all manner of things, so I’ll hopefully start learning how to best use this new piece of kitchen equipment and figuring out whether it’s worth the cupboard space.

Meanwhile, it’s noodle soup for dinner (again – sorry Koji) and a new batch of bones for the weekend.

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beef noodle soup
 
This beef bone soup isn't just delicious, it's also rich in gelatin, collagen and all those other wonderful things that get you moving and keep you strong. Don't like noodles? Have it with shredded vegetables! Or do as I do and keep some in the freezer at all times to reheat for a hot drink (instead of a cup of tea or coffee). You'll need to start this recipe a couple of days ahead (or at least the day before) so that the stock has enough time to leach all of the goodness out of the bones and be chilled before consuming.
Ingredients
  • 750g-1kg beef bones (ask your butcher to cut them into 2 inch chunks across the bone)
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 6-8 white pepper berries (crushed)
  • 300g chuck steak (or shin or brisket)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 thumb sized knob of ginger
  • plus the following to serve: a dash of fish sauce, salt, fresh rice noodles, bean sprouts, thinly sliced beef, lemon wedges & vietnamese mint
How to make it
  1. It's all about the broth, really. Start by dumping all of your bones into a large pot and covering them with water. Heat the bones and water until it comes to the boil and let it boil until you see some brown scum starting to rise to the surface. Dump the bones and water out into a colander in the sink, rinse the bones off with some more water and pop them back in the pot.
  2. Put the star anise, cinnamon, crushed pepper, chuck steak and peeled garlic and ginger into the pot with the bones and top with about 1.5L of water - see how much your pot can manage (you'll need a couple of centimetres spare at the top to save your stove top when it's being boiled).
  3. Heat the pot full of ingredients on a high heat until it boils, then lower the temperature so that the liquid is barely bubbling. Let it boil for at least 4 hours (if not 12), skimming any scum that floats to the top as an when you notice it.
  4. Alternatively: If you're using a thermal cooker (which is my preferred way to make stock these days), bring the pot to the boil and skim the surface for scum for about five minutes. Put the lid on, take the pot off the heat and put it immediately into the thermal cooker. Let it sit for four to six hours (depending on your cooker's efficiency) and repeat the boiling, skimming and sitting steps so that your stock has a minimum of 12 hours simmering time so that the collagen and gelatin have a chance to make their way from the bones into the stock.
  5. When you've finished boiling the stock, strain it into a container through a colander or sieve to remove the bones and other ingredients, setting the chuck steak aside for later.
  6. Wrap the steak in cling film and put it in the fridge to cool. Put the stock in the fridge as well so that it cools and solidifies into a jelly. I usually wait overnight, but depending on the kind of fridge you use, it might be a quicker process than that!
  7. When the stock has solidified into a jelly, you'll be left with a layer of fat across the top. Remove the fat and discard it before using the stock.
  8. To serve, heat some of the jellified stock in a saucepan (it will reliquify, don't worry!) and taste it for seasoning, adding salt and a dash of fish sauce as you like. Heat up the noodles by pouring some boiling water over the top and letting them sit. Serve the stock up with some noodles, fresh bean sprouts, herbs, a lemon wedge and a combination of the brisket / chuck you set aside earlier and some thinly sliced beef.

*gifts, as always, are accepted in accordance with onebitemore’s editorial policy


  • #1
    November 6th, 2014

    just as i am craving pho! i must try this simple version!

  • #2
    March 26th, 2015

    This looks delicious. It’s perfect during cold weather. A nice food to keep the body warm. And beef really makes good flavor.

Shez