Thai Beef Noodle Soup, a Street Food Recipe
If you ever visit Thailand, this is one of the must-try street foods. In Thai, we call it kuay teow rhua, meaning "boat noodles." The reason for that is because it used to be sold on little boats in Thailand's numerous canals. Nowadays, you don't need to look for floating vendors in order to enjoy this delectable noodle soup anymore; it is widely available on land, even more so than in the canals, its original birthplace.
The recipe I'm sharing with you today is a quick and easy version of this dish. Traditionally, boat noodle sellers would prepare their broth from scratch by simmering cow bones with spices for hours. Having no such patience, I resort to utilizing ready-made beef broth, which helps save hours of my time. And the taste? Pretty close to the authentic version! If you're looking for a hearty Thai soup to enjoy this winter, this is certainly a delicious option to keep in mind.
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
- 1 cinnamon stick (about 2 to 3 inches long)
- 2 to 3 dried star anise flowers
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coliander
- 1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- salt to taste
- about 4 ounces of dried rice noodles
- 1 cup thin beef slices
- 6 to 10 Asian-style beef meatballs
- a handful of sweet basil leaves (optional)
- 1/2 cup bean sprouts
- 1/2 cup pig or cow blood (optional)
- Add beef broth and about 2 cups of water to a small soup pot or saucepan. Bring to a boil.
- Add celery, cinnamon sticks, star anise, garlic, ground coliander, sweet soy sauce, soy sauce, sugar and salt.
- Turn the heat down to low and let cook for about 20 minutes. Discard the cinnamon sticks, star anise flowers and celery. Allow the broth to simmer.
- Cook rice noodles according to the instructions on the packet. Drain well and place the cooked rice noodles into two serving bowls. Set aside.
- Bring the broth to a boil again, add cow or pig blood (optional). Then add beef slices and meatballs. (If you slice your beef thin, it should take just about 1 to 2 minutes to cook.) Once the beef slices are cooked, transfer them to the serving bowls along with the meatballs and broth.
- Top with fresh bean sprouts and sweet basil leaves. (If you don't like raw bean sprouts, go ahead and cook them in the broth for 1 to 2 minutes.)
- You may also add Thai fish sauce, vinegar or ground chili pepper if you'd like. Boat noodle restaurants in Thailand usually have these seasonings handy at each table.
Ingredient Photo Guide
You can find meatballs like these in the frozen section of most Asian supermarkets and grocery stores. Usually, they are fully cooked, slightly bouncy in texture and mildly seasoned.
Types of Rice Noodles
Thai rice noodles are usually categorized by their levels of thickness.
- The largest version is called sen yai; these flat noodles are basically like the Chinese chow fun.
- The small, thin ones are known as sen lek; they are similar to those used in Vietnamese pho.
- Finally, sen mee is the tiniest version. If you have never seen them, think of angel-hair pasta.
In this recipe, I use sen lek, but you can opt for another kind of noodles if you like. Bean threads or woon sen, however, usually don't work so well in this noodle soup.
Pig's Blood (Optional)
I know this special ingredient might make some of you feel a little uneasy or even queasy. Well, Thai beef noodle soup isn't always made with blood. However, in most restaurants and vendors, it is often available upon request. Do I like it? Heck yeah! It adds such a deep flavor to the broth, and once it's cooked, it doesn't taste or smell like blood at all. (DO NOT ingest it raw!)
So if you're adventurous with food, be sure to put this blood soup on your "to-devour" list. And if you ever want to have a Thai Halloween party, this could be a marvellous item for your "bloodcurdling" menu. Oh, and by the way, I'm not a vampire.