Thursday, February 21, 2008

pseudo taiwanese beef noodle soup

Comfort foods are always very individual to a person's taste and memories associated. Pete is sick right now and wanted spicy Taiwanese beef noodle soup from a little hole in the wall shop about 20 minutes away. I am sure there is somewhere closer in our neighbourhood, but we haven't found it yet. So instead of heading out I thought I would try to create my own version of one of his comfort foods - it turned out pretty well! It is by no means authentic; nor is it right from scratch! Comfort can't take all day long after all.

Ingredients for Beef:
2-3 lb top sirloin roast
2 garlic cloves
olive oil

Ingredients for Thick Noodles:
3 cups all purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/2 cup water (approximate)

Ingredients for Soup:
3 crushed garlic cloves
2 peeled shallots
8 cups water
1 cube beef bouillon
1 cube veggie bouillon
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
couple dashes fish sauce
2-3 heaped teaspoons spicy sambal/chili sauce*
*add as little or as much as you like

Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. To prepare the roast pat it dry. Make some slits in the meat, and insert sliced garlic in for flavour. Seasoned it with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in fry pan. Sear each side of roast; once all sides are seared, place in caserole dish, that has about 1/2 water in it and cover with aluminum foil. We like our meat rare/medium-rare - I cooked for about 50 minutes and overcooked - at that point it was well done - I would suggest about 35-40 minutes for it to not be too over done, OR, if you have time, slow roast it until it is soft and able to fall apart. Once meat is cooked to where you want it, remove from heat, cover and let the juices re-distribute.

Once meat is in the oven, start making the noodles. On a clean counter top, mound the flour, make a well, and crack the eggs into the centre of the well. With your fingers incorporate the eggs into the dough, if needed to help bond it all together, add small amounts of water at a time. Kneed the dough until smooth (about 5 minutes). I don't have a pasta maker, if I did this next part would have been a lot easier! I rolled the pasta out with a rolling pin (divide ball into quarters to make this a lot faster). With a pasta machine you would want to run it through twice at each thickness interval. I thought I had it thin enough when I had it down to about 3 mm, but I would suggest going a little thinner than that. Once rolled out to the thickness you want - roll the dough into a long tube (like a rolled up newspaper), taking your knife cut the pasta into about 5-7mm widths. You have created what looks like a coin of pasta, but once you unroll each coin is a long string of thick noodle pasta. Drape pasta over a clean dish rack, a big bowl, or (gasp!) a pasta drying rack.

To make the soup base I started tossing things in that we had around the house, basically bring the water to a boil and through everything else in, let it simmer away as the flavours infuse.

Boil water for the pasta while it is hanging and drying out. Add pasta a few handfuls at a time, don't overcrowd the pot. Once noodles float to the top (3-4 minutes) add noodles to simmering pot of soup base.

Ladle the noodles and soup into a bowl. You can take the meat, shred it if possible and serve on top of soup. Or you can do what I did. Slice up the roast, into bite size pieces and toss in the soup, that way it infuses with all the flavours of the soup base - either way - enjoy! Great for colds, or just cold rainy weather.

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