As I was researching recipes to include in my Year of the Panda dinner menu, I knew I wanted to represent the various regions of China, so I looked for meals that would be considered typical of each area. I learned that Lanzhou is well known for their Beef Noodles dish. I thought I would try making that for my menu, so I started researching just that recipe itself.
I came across this Lanzhou Beef Noodles recipe from Omnivore’s Cookbook and well, in addition to falling in love with Maggie’s photography and writing, I decided I couldn’t make this traditional Lanzhou dish for my meal. Maggie offers such a majestic description of the dish, and the process of hand pulling the noodles – she likens the process to that of sushi making in Japan – a feat that takes years to master and is an art to be honored.
I would very much love to travel to China and taste this incredible dish, and I would also love to learn to make it. I believe that traditional recipes and practices like this deserve to be honored. So even though I do know how to make sushi at home, and I will one day learn to hand pull noodles in Lanzhou, you will not see such recipes on my website. I could never do such tradition justice.
So Dear Readers, we will have to settle with this very flavorful, completely improvised, and not at all like the original, Chinese 5 Spice Beef and Noodles. My recipe is not authentically Chinese, but it does borrow some authentically Chinese flavors. My husband and I enjoyed every last bite and slurp of this soup the few times I have made it. With all the cold weather and rain we’ve having, I foresee this soup frequently in our near future.
Chinese 5 Spice Beef and Noodles is a fairly simple dish to make. The most difficult part being slicing the beef super thin. I place the entire raw steak in the freezer, then use my sharpest knife to slice as thinly as I can. Freezing the beef makes it easier to slice, and the super thin slices thaw it out instantly.
The super thin steak gets a marinade before being added to the piping hot noodle soup. Serve with your favorite toppings and accompaniments to make this dish your own.