Two Meals from One Brisket Pt I: Beef Noodle Soup

The other day, I was alone with the kids for a day, and digging through the cupboards, fridge and freezer, which were all looking pretty post-christmassy.

I was pretty well off for those things you tend to have a lot of after a period of mass feasting, namely double cream, butter, onions, garlic, ginger and a few vegetable odds and ends. In the freezer, I found a kilo of beef brisket and a bag of frozen spinach. The cupboards contained all the usual spices, soy sauce some tinned tomatoes, dried noodles, eggs and some lentils.

I set my mind to thinking, Ready Steady Cook style, how I could squeeze a fairly interesting child friendly lunch and dinner out of that lot that might interest the kids.

For lunch, we had a beefy, warmly spiced noodle soup topped with a boiled egg, a few vegetable garnishes and a couple of thin slices of the beef, the recipe for which is below.

For dinner, we had two curries, one with the leftover brisket and one dal, and rice, which I shall write up tomorrow.

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You will need, for 3 people:

for the quick-pickled onions:

  • half a red onion, thinly sliced
  • 150ml water
  • 100ml sugar
  • 50ml Spirit Vinegar 12% acidity (or alternatively use twice as much white wine vinegar and 50ml less water)

…and for the noodle soup:

  • 750g-1kg beef brisket
  • 3″ cinnamon bark
  • 3 peppercorns
  • 2 cloves
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 2″ fresh ginger cut into thin slices
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3tbsp Japanese soy sauce (or light soy sauce)
  • 3 portions of dried ramen noodles (or anything you have)
  • A small portion of leek, or a fat spring onion, very thinly shredded

First, cut the beef into four equal-ish sized pieces and put it in a medium sized pan with the cinnamon, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom pods and ginger, cover with a litre of water and bring to the boil over a high heat. When it boils, clap on a lid, turn the heat down to low, and leave well alone for two hours, checking only occasionally, by which stage the beef should be very tender, but still holding its shape. Drain the cooking liquid into a jug, and top it up to make a litre again. Set aside the beef.

Whist the beef cooks. place your onion slices in a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, water and sugar in a pan over a low heat until fully dissolved, then pour over, cover and leave to cool.

Place your eggs extremely gently into boiling water, cook for seven minutes, before fishing them out and plunging them straight into a big bowl of very cold water (use ice if you like, but the water comes out of our taps very cold). Leave them for three minutes, then carefully peel them and set them aside.

Cook your noodles according to the packet instructions, then drain them.

Meanwhile, cut 6-8 thin slices from a piece of brisket, bring your beef stock to lively boil, put a tablespoon each of soy sauce in three deep bowls suitable for soup and divide the noodles evenly between the three bowls. Pour about 300ml of stock into each bowl and whisk a little with a pair of chopsticks or a fork. to combine everything. Cut the eggs in half and top each bowl with two halves, a hefty pinch of shredded leek/spring onion, some pickled onions and two or three slices of the beef, before tucking in with a big spoon in your left hand, and chopsticks (or a fork) in your right.

Of course, you can throw anything you like on top of that bowl depending on what you have. This was a recipe slung together through necessity, and yours can be too.

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