Chef Ali's Cellophane Noodle Soup with Beef and Chinese Cabbage

Chinese Cabbage

Long, pale and frilly Chinese cabbage is mainstay throughout Asia. Left raw it adds crunch to a salad or slaw, sautéed it adds texture to a stir fry and slowly braised it soaks up flavors becoming a beautiful vehicle for flavor. Here are 3 recipes one for each incarnation.

Cellophane Noodle Soup with Beef and Chinese Cabbage

This soup is sort of an amalgam of a Japanese dish called Sukiyaki and Vietnamese Pho. It is wonderful on a cold night, or afternoon, even the morning. Cellophane noodles can be found at most natural food stores. They are made from mung beans and get all slippery and unctuous in the broth. If you don’t eat beef substitute chicken, fish or vegetable stock and obviously leave out the beef, if you choose chicken you will have to let it cook a bit longer in the broth, but leftover roast chicken is a terrific substitute.

Ingredients

  • 3 quarts Aromatic broth (recipe below)

  • 1-pound sirloin or chuck steak sliced against the grain as thinly as possible, which works best when half frozen marinated in the following and– (you can also use cooked leftover meat, add marinade directly to broth if you chose that option)

  • Marinade:

  1. 2 cloves garlic sliced
  2. 1 tsp fish sauce
  3. 1 tsp raw sugar
  4. ¼ cup sherry or rice wine or sake
  5. 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  6. 1/2 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 whole Chinese cabbage- white parts cut into 1” pieces
  • Burnt onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup carrot cut in 1” pieces
  • 3 scallions cut in to 1” pieces
  • 1 package firm tofu cut in 1” chunks
  • 3 bundles of cellophane noodles soaked for 10 minutes in hot water then drained
  • arnish- Raw sliced jalapeno, basil leaves, lime juice, scallion, Gochuchang (Korean red pepper paste) or sriracha, hoisin sauce)

Recipe:

  1. Bring Aromatic broth up to a simmer

  2. Add Chinese cabbage, carrots & scallions

  3. Cook for 20 minutes until carrots are soft

  4. Bring heat up to almost a boil and add the raw meat and marinade

  5. Cook for about 5 minutes you want it to remain tender

  6. Add cellophane noodles, cook for another few minutes until then become clear

  7. Divide tofu among 4 bowls

  8. Ladle soup over tofu along with, spoon out meat, noodles and vegetables

  9. Garnish with whatever you like

  10. The noodles are very very slurpy – you’ll need a spoon and chopsticks or a fork.




 

Aromatic Broth - you can make this a few days ahead of time or even overnight in a crock pot.

  • 1 half of a yellow onion (Don’t slice it just cut it in half)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 pieces of star anise
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 10-12 black peppercorns
  • 1” piece peeled ginger, smashed
  • 2” piece of lemon grass pounded with a mallet a few times
  • 2 cloves garlic smashed
  • 2 tbs fish sauce (omit if vegetarian)
  • 3 quarts beef stock – homemade or purchased
  1. Place the onion cut side down in a pre-heated pan (if you have a gas stove you can do this directly over the flame) and let it burn—no really it needs to char- you should probably open a window or turn on the exhaust fan when you do this- it takes about 8 minutes. Set it aside when done to use for the soup.
  2. Heat a large pot and add cinnamon stick, star anise, fennel seeds and black peppercorns
  3. Cook until fragrant- only a few minutes, watch them carefully you don’t want them to burn
  4. Add the garlic, lemon grass and ginger stir around
  5. Add Stock and fish sauce
  6. Allow this to simmer for about at least hour, don’t let it boil.
  7. Strain and discard all the bits