For the Crispy Noodle Garnish, Curry Paste, and Curry
Prepare the crispy noodle garnish: Heat 1½ inches of oil to 325°F in a wok over high heat. (If you don’t have a thermometer, the oil is ready when a noodle sizzles instantly in the oil, but it shouldn’t be smoking hot.) Carefully place 20 grams / ⅔ ounce of noodles in the oil, deep-frying until crispy but not burnt, about 30 seconds. Remove the noodles with a slotted spoon or spider, and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining noodles. When the noodles are cool, store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Prepare the curry paste: Bring the chilies and enough water to cover by an inch or two to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat and soak the chilies for 15 minutes. Drain, discarding the water, and when cool enough to handle, remove and discard the seeds from the chilies. Using a mortar and pestle, pound and grind the chilies and salt to a coarse paste. Add the ginger; pound and grind to a coarse paste. Add the onions, shallots, and garlic, and pound and grind to a fine paste. (Because of the liquid in these ingredients, this last step is easiest if done in a blender or food processor.)
Prepare the curry: A day or several hours before serving, crack the black cardamom pods, discarding the shells. Add the black cardamom seeds to a wok set over medium-low heat. Toast the seeds, stirring frequently, until they are slightly dark and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Pound and grind the seeds to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle (or use a spice grinder). Repeat with the star anise.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the curry paste, 1 tablespoon of the ground black cardamom, 2 teaspoons of ground star anise, turmeric, and ginger, and fry, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is fragrant and a thin layer of oil has begun to emerge, about 20 minutes.
Increase the heat to medium, add the beef, and fry, stirring occasionally, until the beef is just firm, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of water, the black soy sauce, sugar, and MSG (if using), and increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover the saucepan, and simmer for 1 hour. Open the lid slightly and simmer until the beef is very tender and a layer oil has risen to the top, another 1 to 1½ hours. Taste, adjusting the seasoning if necessary; the curry should taste meaty and slightly salty, and it should be fragrant from the dried spices.
Prepare the bowls: Warm up the beef curry, adding a few tablespoons of water, if necessary (the mixture should be thick but somewhat pourable). Bring the coconut milk and coconut cream to a gentle simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring at least 6 inches of water to a boil in a stockpot over high heat. Put 75 grams / 2¾ ounces of noodles in a noodle basket and boil, agitating the basket until the noodles are just tender, about 20 seconds. Remove the noodles, drain, and add to a serving bowl. Top with a scant ½ cup of the beef curry and a scant ½ cup of the coconut milk mixture.
Garnish with the cilantro, green onions, and the crispy fried noodles. Repeat with the remaining ingredients for each bowl.
Serve with the sliced shallots, sliced pickled greens, and limes, as well as the dried chilies fried in oil and fish sauce