The Perfect Asian Bowl
My friend Jason Wang of Xi’an Famous Foods taught me to make these hand-pulled noodles the way that his dad David Shi taught him. They are simply perfect. I put them in beef soup with short rib or brisket and season them simply with scallions and a drizzle of soy or chili-oil at the table depending on my mood and the make up of my kitchen guests.
Hand-Pulled Noodles with Braised Beef
- 2 pounds of beef brisket from the fatty half of the cut, (everyone else wants the “flat”, I like the “nose”) Cut in 8-10 chunks
- 4 pounds beef bones for soup (I use shin bones)
- 2 onions, quartered.
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
- 1/4 cup of really good quality all natural soy sauce
- 1/4 cup Chinese rice wine
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup chopped scallion
- 2 inch piece of ginger, sliced
- 1 star anise
Servings: about 4 portions
First take a quart of white, bleached flour and put it in a standing mixer. The amount really depends on how many noodle portions you want to make. For each bowl of noodle you need about 6 ounces (a nice large handful) of dough.
Put half a teaspoon of salt into a brine solution with 1/2 cup cold water so it mixes easier. Have more water at the ready.
Slowly add the salted cold water to the mixer, beating slow/medium with dough hook attachment, and give it time to form even consistency before adding more water. You know the dough is perfect when it’s even and not clumpy, soft to the touch (can be pressed in with a finger) but not as soft as an over-ripened tomato.
Rest the dough, covered, at room temperature for 1 hour. The dough will get softer.
Cut the dough into even pieces, (about 1.5″ wide, 4″ long, 1/2″ thick). Oil them with your hands as you go so that they can be stored on top of each other without sticking. Immediately put the dough pieces in the fridge. Don’t stack too many on top of each other, I go three or four high. They need to sit in fridge for an hour. When ready to pull/cook, take them out from the fridge, the pieces will be rigid. Take individual pieces out and leave it on the table for a few minutes and they will soften. Press noodle pieces flat and pull with even force on both sides in opposite directions while pulling and slapping it on the table. Once the noodle is long, rip in the middle of the piece and throw into a large boiling pot of water. After a minute, fish out the noodles using a strainer or very long tongs, and mix with any type of sauce/ingredients you prefer!
In a large pot place 6 quarts water, the bones, peppercorns and the onions. Bring to a strong simmer. Lower heat to retain slowest simmer you can and cook for 5 hours. Strain and reserve the liquid and any meat attached to the shins if you had some. Discard the rest. In a large thick pot (I use my largest Le Creuset) on medium heat, place the beef, soy sauce, rice wine and sugar. Cook for a few minutes until sugar has dissolved and the beef is coated in the liquid. Add the ginger, spring onion, peppercorns, star anise and the stock you made with the shins. Bring to a strong simmer, lower heat, and simmer very slowly, covered, skimming off any impurities every 20 minutes or so, for about 90 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until beef is very tender.
Cook the noodles, add beef to the bowls, garnish with scallion, crispy shallot, bok choy or other greens. Season the broth and ladle it on right before serving, with chili oil, soy and mustard on the table.