Ribbons of fat noodles soak up a spicy and aromatic broth while tender chunks of beef and green spinach leaves float by. How’s that for comfort food on a cold night? The use of cinnamon in a beef and noodle recipe may leave some people wondering. Wonder no more. For without a doubt, the cinnamon, together with the ginger, aniseed, and hot chile paste, undeniably adds a lovely complexity to the flavors in this simple and appealing dish.
Cinnamon Beef Noodles
Nina Simonds Asian Noodles Cookbook
1 teaspoon safflower or corn oil
6 scallions, trimmed, cut into 1½-inch sections, and smashed lightly with the flat side of a knife
6 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed lightly with flat side of a cleaver, and thinly sliced
4 slices fresh ginger (about the size of a quarter), smashed lightly with the flat side of a knife
1½ teaspoons hot chile paste
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon aniseed
8½ cups water
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 pounds chuck or beef stew meat, trimmed of fat and gristle, and cut into 1½-inch cubes
10-ounces spinach, trimmed, rinsed, and drained
1/2 pound flat Chinese wheat-flour noodles, udon, or other flat noodles, such as fettuccine, cooked until just tender, rinsed under warm water, and drained
3 tablespoons minced scallions
1. Heat a large pot or casserole over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat until hot, about 30 seconds. Add the chile-cinnamon seasonings and stir-fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds.
2. Add the water and the soy sauce and bring to a boil.
3. Add the beef and bring back to a boil.
4. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1½ hours, or until the beef is very tender. Skim the surface to remove any impurities or fat.
5. Remove the ginger slices and cinnamon sticks and discard.
6. Add the spinach and bring to a boil.
7. Divide the noodles among six soup bowls. Ladle the meat, spinach, and broth over the noodles and sprinkle with scallions. Serve.
1. I used half low-sodium soy and half regular soy, because I was concerned about the broth being too salty. It was just right. No additional salt was needed.
2. Because I had 3 pounds of meat, I added an additional stick of cinnamon to the pot.
3. Adding chunks of red pepper will contrast the spinach nicely and give the dish a little bit more color.
4. In her recipe Ms. Simonds states, “The flavor gets better and better every time you reheat it.” Don’t you love food that gets better with time!