Lanzhou Beef Noodle Soup

Consisting of a flavorful broth, shaved beef, tender radishes, herbs, chili oil, and chewy noodles, Lanzhou Beef Noodle Soup (兰州拉面, lanzhou lamian) has the majority vote for favorite bowl of noodles among 1.4 billion very culinarily-conscious citizens.

Lanzhou Beef Noodle Soup

Ingredients
You'll need:
  1. 4 lbs beef or pork soup bones
  2. 2¼ lbs (1 kg) beef shank
  3. ½ of a whole roasting chicken (or a leftover roasted chicken carcass)
  4. 10 cups water
  5. 4 cups (about 1 liter) chicken stock
  6. Spice mix (see recipe below)
  7. Salt, to taste (I added about a tablespoon)
  8. ½ of a small Chinese radish, quartered and thinly sliced
  9. 1 lb fresh or dried white noodles (they can really be any thickness, as long as they are wheat-based noodles rather than rice noodles, and have a nice chew when cooked)
  10. Hot chili oil, to taste (see recipe below)
  11. chopped scallion
  12. chopped cilantro

For the spice mix:
  1. 7 star anise
  2. 12 cloves
  3. 1 cinnamon stick
  4. 5 bay leaves
  5. 6 large slices of sand ginger
  6. 1½ teaspoons fennel seeds
  7. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  8. 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
  9. 1½ teaspoons white peppercorns
  10. 5 licorice root slices (optional but very much recommended)
  11. 3 pieces dried orange peel
  12. 1 black cardamom

For the hot chili oil:
  1. ¾ cup oil
  2. 2 star anise
  3. ½ of a small cinnamon stick
  4. ½ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
  5. 3 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes (just the regular kind you'd sprinkle on your pizza)
  6. 1 teaspoon salt
  7. ¼ teaspoon sugar

Instructions
  • Rinse the soup bones and pat dry. Roast them on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add the beef shank and the chicken (or chicken carcass) to the pot. Bring everything to a boil again. Once boiling, remove the shank and the chicken, discard the water, and clean the pot. This process gets rid of any impurities, and will give your broth a cleaner flavor.
  • Put the beef shank and chicken back into the pot along with the roasted bones, 10 more cups of water, and 4 cups chicken stock. Make the spice mix by combining all ingredients and tying them tightly in cheese cloth with a bit of kitchen string. Add this to the pot as well and season with salt. Bring everything to a boil.
  • Once boiling, turn down the heat to low and let everything simmer for about 2 hours. After 2 hours have elapsed, remove the beef shank and set aside. Add the sliced radish and continue simmering for another hour. After that, use tongs to pick out and discard the spice pouch, chicken, and soup bones. Taste the broth for salt and adjust the seasoning if needed. The soup base is ready.