Rice Noodles in Soup with Beef


serves 4
275 g (10 oz) dried flat rice noodles, soaked in water for 2 hours, then drained or flat egg noodles
225 g (8 oz) tender beef steak, about 2.5 cm (1 in) thick, cut into paper thin slices (it helps if the meat is partly frozen)
2 - 3 fresh hot red or green chillies, cut crossways into very thin slices
1 spring onion, cut into fine rounds
6 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, coarse stalks removed
6 tbsp small fresh mint leaves, coarse stalks removed
1.5 litres (2 1/2 pints) beef stock plus about one third of the beef brisket used in making it, wrapped tightly and refrigerated and cut against the grain into thin slices
1 lime, cut into wedges, to serve
red pepper sauce to serve
1 small bowl fish sauce (nam pla), to serve
seasoned vinegar, to serve


1. Heat a large pan of water and drop the drained noodles into it. They will cool very fast - perhaps even in 1 minute - so keep testing them. Drain the noodles and rinse them under cold running water until they are needed.

2. Just before serving, heat the stock and keep it warm. To heat the noodles, drain them and then either plunge them into hot water for a few seconds or put them into a microwave oven for 1 minute. (Fresh rice noodles need only to be dropped into boiling water for just a few seconds and then drained. If you are using egg noodles, cook them according to the instructions on the packet.)

3. Divide the noodles among four to six individual serving bowls. Arrange a layer of cooked brisket slices over the noodles. On top of the brisket, arrange a layer of the raw beef slices. Sprinkle some chilli and onion slices, coriander and mint over the sliced steak. Ladle some hot stock over all this and serve. The diners season the dish themselves with sauce and freshly squeezed lime juice.

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