Yunnan-style Beef Soup (牛扒烀)

Today we are making a Yunnan-style beef soup. It is very easy to make and it is like one of the best soups you should try. Yunnan is a special province, it has the largest number of ethnic minorities so there are lots of different cultures here. It borders Myanmar, Vietnam, and Laos; It is connected with Thailand and Cambodia through the Lancang Mekong River. With lots of catering collisions, Yunnan developed a complex, tropical, and interesting cuisine.

INGREDIENTS
To make the beef soup

  • 2 kg of beef parts (beef honey cone trips, beef tendon, beef ribs, beef meat, beef bones)
  • 2-3 liters of water
  • 2 inches of ginger
  • 2 scallions
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp of white peppercorns

To complete the soup

  • 10-15 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 inch of minced ginger, diced
  • 2 scallion, diced
  • 2 shallot, diced
  • 5-8 Thai bird-eye chili, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1/3 cups of diced mint leaves
  • 5-6 culantro leaves, diced
  • 6-8 cilantro leaves, diced
  • Lime juice from 2-3 limes, taste and adjust
  • 2 tsp of Sichuan peppercorn powder
  • 1 tbsp of salt or to taste

You can use any cuts of the beef as long as it is good for braising. I am using sirloin tip, beef ribs, beef femur bone, and honeycomb trip. If you don’t like to eat animal organs, you don’t have to use this but do your best to collect multiple cuts of beef so you can have different textures and flavors in one pot.

Next, we are going to blanch the beef. Fill a big pot with lots of water. Add all the beef. Partially cover the pot. Turn the heat to high and bring this to a boil.

Once it comes to a boil, skim off all the scum by using a fine sieve. Blanching is completely optional, I am doing this just to get rid of the gamey beefy flavor so my soup will come out with a clean look and taste. You don’t have to if you like the strong flavor.

Transfer the beef into a clay pot. Fill the clay pot with 2-3 liters of water. Turn the heat to high. Don’t put on the lid otherwise, it will overflow when it comes to a boil.

While waiting, we can put the following aromatics and spices into a spicy bag: 1 inch of ginger, 2 scallions, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, 4 bay leaves, and 2 tsp of white peppercorns.

The pot has come back to a boil now. If there is more scum floating on the top, you can fish that out by using a fine sieve. The name of this soup is called Niu Pahu (牛扒烀) in Yunnan dialect. Niu is beef. Pahu means braised until tender. So it is pretty straightforward. Add the spice bag and switch the heat to the lowest. Simmer this for 1.5 hours.

Another spirit of this soup is that it is loaded with a lethal amount of herbs. I have got here: garlic, ginger, scallion, shallot, celery, Thai bird-eye chili, mint, Culantro, and cilantro

All these ingredients need to be finely diced. If you can not collect all these herbs, it is ok to skip one or 2. Or you can use other kinds of herbs that you love. Shallot looks like mini red onion. If you don’t have it, you can use red onion; Thai bird eye chili is very spicy, you can adjust the amount base on your tolerance. I was going to use Chinese celery but I couldn’t find it today so I am using regular celery. The mint is very important, it makes the soup refreshing. Culantro smells and tastes like cilantro but 10 times stronger. I am using both because i have both. You can use one of them, if you don’t like cilantro, you can use basil or other herbs.

Cut a few large-size limes and squeeze the juice out of them.

The soup has been simmered for 2 hours now, the broth became slightly milky white, which is the way how I like. You could use an instant pot or a pressure cooker but then the broth will come out clear instead of creamy. It is your choice.

Remove all the beef and leave the broth behind. Take the meat off the bones, which is really easy as it is so tender. The femur bone usually has some cartilage at the end of the joint, I like to eat those too. Discard the bones and the spice bag.

Cut all the beef into bite-size pieces. Be careful. It is very hot. I should have waited until the meat cools down.

Put all the beef meat back into the clay pot. Bring it to a boil again. Add all the aromatics, along with some Sichuan peppercorn powder and some salt to taste. The lime juice should be the last. Add it in gradually and you should turn off the heat right after. Not all the limes are equally sour so you should taste and adjust until it is perfect.

I can’t wait to enjoy this soup. It is so good. What surprises me is that although we use so many herbs, they mainly tropicalized the broth. There are lots of fragrances going on – very garlicky, spicy, and refreshing but it doesn’t overpower the natural taste of the beef. You know what, if you cook some noodles in this soup, em, it will be amazing.

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Yunnan Style Beef Soup with Herbs (云南牛扒烀)

Niu (牛) is beef. Pahu (扒烀) means braised until tender in Yunnan dialect. Yunnan is a special province, it has the largest number of ethnic minorities so there are lots of different cultures here. It borders Myanmar, Vietnam, and Laos; It is connected with Thailand and Cambodia through the Lancang Mekong River. With lots of catering collisions, Yunnan developed a complex, tropical, and interesting cuisine.
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

To make the beef soup

To complete the soup

  • 10-15 cloves of garlic diced
  • 1 inch of minced ginger
  • 2 scallions diced
  • 2 shallots diced
  • 5-8 Thai bird-eye chili diced
  • 2 stalks of celery diced
  • 1/3 cups of diced mint leaves
  • 5-6 culantro leaves diced
  • 6-8 cilantro leaves diced
  • Lime juice from 2-3 limes taste and adjust
  • 2 tsp of Sichuan peppercorn powder
  • 1 tbsp of salt or to taste

Instructions

  • Fill a big pot with water and add the beef. Bring it to a boil. Skim off the scum. Any tough beef cuts will work good for this recipe. Do your best to collect multiple cuts of beef so you can have different textures and flavors in one pot.
  • Put the following aromatics and spices into a spicy bag: ginger slices, scallion stalks, cinnamon stick, star anise, bay leaves, and white peppercorns.
  • Transfer the beef into a clean pot then add 2-3 liters of water. Add the spice bag. Bring it to a boil. Simmer on low heat for 1.5 hours.
  • Finely dice the garlic, ginger, scallion, shallot, celery, Thai bird-eye chili, mint, Culantro, and cilantro. Squeeze the juice from a few large-size limes. If you can not collect all these herbs, it is ok to use other kinds of herbs you like.
  • Remove all the beef from the pot and leave the broth behind. Discard the bones and the spice bag. Cut the beef into bite-size pieces.
  • Put the beef meat back into the clay pot. Bring it to a boil again. Add all the herbs along with the Sichuan peppercorn powder and salt to taste.
  • Add the lime juice gradually and taste to adjust the flavor.

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