West Lake Beef Soup, or xi hu niu rou geng, is a traditional soup dish from Hangzhou, China. Legend has it that the appearance of the egg soup resembles the surface of the picturesque West Lake in Hangzhou, and hence the name West Lake Beef Soup. The distinctive taste of this soup comes from the chopped coriander leaves (cilantro), which is added towards the end of the cooking process. The heat diminishes their flavor quickly and the soup is infused with the subtle, citrus tinge of the coriander leaves (cilantro).
Serves 4 as part of a multi-course meal
- 6 oz (175 g) ground beef
- 1/2 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or sherry
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 21/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons water
- 13/4 cups (425 ml) homemade Chicken Stock or 1 can (14 oz/400 g) store-bought chicken broth
- 11/2 cups (375 ml) water
- 3 dashes white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/3 cup (10 g) coarsely chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)
- Marinate the ground beef with the Chinese rice wine and sesame oil, about 10 minutes. Break up the ground beef into small pieces using a fork after marinating.
- Mix the cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Stir to blend well. Set aside.
- Bring the chicken broth and water to a boil in a pot. Lower the heat to medium and add the ground beef into the soup. Skim off the foam on the surface.
- Add the white pepper and salt, and thicken the soup with the cornstarch mixture. Stir the soup with a ladle and turn off the heat.
- Swirl the beaten eggs into the soup and immediately stir it three times with a pair of chopsticks. Cover the pot with its lid for 2 minutes. The eggs should be cooked and will form into silken threads. Add the coriander leaves into the soup and stir to blend.
- Dish out into individual serving bowls and serve immediately.
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