Still cold here in Savannah--so, I decided to make a warming, hearty noodle soup like I used to eat in Beijing--the aroma of it fills the house now and smells just heavenly! This is a cheap dish in Beijing, usually around $1 for a BIG bowl--what we would think of as a soup tureen-- and I used to sit amazed watching people half my size finish that big ole bowl. There's just nothing like this soup when a freezing wind is whipping around corners and the cold just gets into your bones. We'd have a Yanjing beer, or occasionally a pot of hot chrysanthemum tea along with the soup. You can also make it with stew beef or round steak, sliced. Spinach is my favorite green to add to it, but bok choy is also quite good. The soup is even better the next day.
I like to use Bone-in Beef Shank Cross-Cuts (check out the 2nd photo) for this, because of the cheap price, the dense texture and delicious taste in soup--the marrow bone makes an excellent broth. The blend of spices can either be found in Chinese 5-spice powder, or you can find what you need on your spice shelf, which is what I decided to do today. Since I don't have any Sichuan peppers at the moment, I used Guajillo from Mexico, and had to replace the star anise with anise extract, but the taste was still rich and satisfying. Whole grain wheat noodles work well with this soup, or, if you use ordinary thin spaghetti noodles, make sure you don't overcook them! —BeijingRose
Freeze the beef until it is a little stiff--this makes it easy to cut into thin strips. Put the meat and two marrow bones into a 5-quart pot of water with the halved garlic cloves, along with the sliced ginger, cinnamon stick, star anise, ground cloves, bouillon cube and soy sauce.
Bring to a boil then turn down to medium and cover, cooking until meat is tender, about 1 hour.
LIft the lid and drop spaghetti noodles into the bubbling broth, leave uncovered and cook for 10 minutes, stirring to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Drop the carrots in and cook for 3 minutes.
Just before serving, toss in the spinach, then pour in the wine, stir well, and cover--cook for 3 minutes more. Ladle into large bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro. This meal is really good served with a strong beer like Yan Jing or Heineken, or with a port wine ( room temp).