My mom is the best cook I know, and I'm not just saying that because she's my mom. Not only does she make some awesomely impressive dishes for potlucks and the like, she also makes awesome everyday dishes just for us, and the best thing is, she's self-taught. One of the dishes that my brother and I always demand she makes when we're home is niu rou mian, or Taiwanese beef noodle soup. Actually, the translation is a little misleading because it's not exactly niu rou tang mian (tang means soup in Mandarin). The dish my mom makes doesn't have a whole lot of soup (although you could just add beef broth if you wanted, I suppose), it's more like a healthy amount of sauce. —Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy
Test Kitchen Notes
With a little advance planning, this recipe easily became a new favorite. The two hour braise is worth it: the beef is tender and full of flavor, simultaneously sweet and salty. The cabbage adds a little crunch and tempers the soup's flavor so that nothing overwhelms the palate. There's a stroke of genius here: The Cooking of Joy instructs you to serve the dish with ladles of the sauce thinned with some of the pasta water, creating a broth that doesn't overpower in flavor or texture. If my mom had made this for me as a child, I would surely request it on my visits home! —duclosbe1
small head napa cabbage, washed and cut into 3" pieces
In a large saucepan, saute the first four ingredients in the oil for 2 minutes. Add the beef and cook until just browned.
Add the wine, soy sauce, water, sugar, and tomato and heat to boiling. Reduce to a simmer and cook with the lid on for 2 hours.
About 15 minutes before the beef is done, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the pasta and cook while stirring occasionally for 3 minutes. Add the napa cabbage and cook for 2 more minutes. Drain off most of the water.
Divide the noodles and cabbage among 6 large bowls, adding a little of the excess hot water. Add the beef on top and ladle in some of the sauce, making sure to remove the star anise.