Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Thai Beef Noodle Soup

Thai Beef Noodle Soup

One of the most popular dishes in Thailand is Beef Noodle Soup.  You can find it in restaurants or on stands on the street side.  The poor eat it, the rich eat it and everyone in between.  We went to Thailand this past Fall and I would see these huge pots of soup bubbling away on little burners on the sidewalk.  The vendors would be dishing up bowls of soup and people would be taking their lunch breaks eating on tables nearby or getting their soup dished up to-go.  Strangely, one of the most fascinating things I saw was soup in a bag.  The soup gets poured into a clear plastic bag and it is then tied up and is ready to go.  Think about what the bag looks like when someone wins a goldfish at a fair.  This take out method completely blew my mind.

My father-in-law was my first introduction to Thai Beef Noodle Soup long before out trip.  It is one of the meals we eat most often when we go to visit.  Typically, the Thai flavors are pretty overwhelming for me, but in this dish the flavors are kept basic.  This soup is not exotic but is very delicious and easy to make.  You start with beef stew meat that is slowly simmered with beef broth, soy sauce and ground pepper.  I build my bowl of soup with a nest of rice noodles, chinese broccoli or yu choy, bean sprouts and then top it with the soup.  I then sprinkle green onions on top.  Traditionally you can add fish sauce, vinegar with chopped fresh chili, sugar and/or crushed red pepper flakes.  These are the same options you can ask for at a Thai restaurant here in the States if you want to add some authenticity to your meal.  I prefer not to add any of these options but you might want to test them out!

*This recipe is gluten free.  Please be careful to look at the ingredients as all brands are not the same.

Thai Beef Noodle Soup
Prep time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1 lb beef stew meat
1 tablespoon oil
8 cups beef broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
1-2 teaspoons ground pepper
Salt to taste
1 bag rice stick noodles
1 lb chinese broccoli or yu choy
2 cups bean sprouts, rinsed
2 green onions, thinly sliced

In a large pot over medium-high, heat the oil.  Once very hot add in the beef.  Do not touch for at least 1 minute.  After than stir and leave it for another minute or 2 so it can brown.  Add the beef broth in and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, cover and turn to low; keeping the soup at a simmer for about an hour.  Add in the soy sauce and ground pepper.  At this point taste the soup and add salt and more pepper to taste.

Bring a pot of water to boil, at least 2 quarts. 

Bring 1/2 inch water to simmer in a saucepan.  Prepare the broccoli by washing thoroughly and  then chopping the ends off.  On the very long pieces you may need to cut the stalks in half to make them shorter.  Add the greens to the saucepan and cover for one minute.  Drain and remove the lid so the greens do not keep cooking.

Once the pot of water boils add the rice stick noodles into the water.  You will need to follow the package directions to cook the noodles.  My package of noodles had me boil them for 1 minute stirring constantly and then drain immediately.

Once your noodles are cooked you are ready to serve your bowls up.  Place noodles in the bottom of each bowl and then divide the greens between the bowls.  Top the greens with bean sprouts.  Pour soup over all of this and then sprinkle with green onions.  Serve immediately.  If you are not serving at this point just keep all the soup elements separate until you are ready to serve.  The noodles will soak up more liquid and will get very mushy if you add it to the broth before serving.

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