Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Notorious N.R.M.

No, it’s not the latest rap act out on the streets talking about making some c$sh and getting some @$$. Just a lame excuse to dress up the acronym for one of my favorite Chinese noodle dishes. NRM stands for “Niu Ro Mian”, literally ‘beef-noodle’. Kirk of Mmm-Yoso! and I decided to do a synchronized post on NRM. Like Vietnamese Pho noodles, NRM recipes vary by province. For example, Shanghai style NRM is bloody spicy – with the soup almost looking like lava. I can’t handle the heat so I devised my own recipe. I took the common ingredients and I guess I made it more Cantonese style. The broth is a little bit sweeter, heavier on star anise and five spice powder. I usually judge the quality of a restaurant by their ability to prepare NRM. Same goes with a Vietnamese restaurant’s ability to make stellar Pho. If they can’t get that right, chances are, the other stuff on the menu won’t fare too well. But that’s just me.

Here are the ingredients I’ve used:

??? of water
2 lbs. of beef shank
2 cloves of garlic
5 slices of ginger
2 green onions (smashed the white part with my knife)
Shaoxing rice wine
soy sauce (used for flavoring)
dark soy sauce (used for coloring)
star anise
five spice powder (wu xiang fen)
salt & white pepper
black vinegar
chili bean paste

Kirk also uses similar ingredients, only he uses dried chili peppers and peppercorns. I should definitely try that next time once I develop an iron stomach.

Start by adding salt and white pepper on the cubed shank meat. Mix it in a bowl with a little bit of Shaoxing rice wine, dark soy sauce and oil. Let that marry in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Heat up the pan and make sure it’s smoking hot. Add oil, garlic, ginger slivers and green onions, and let it brown for 1 minute. Add the marinated meat and cook till it’s a dark brown color. Fill up the pot with water and boil it on high heat. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium. You’ll start to see a raft of impurities floating on top. This is where you have to baby the NRM and check upon it every 15-20 minutes. You don’t wanna be drinking the ‘floaties’.

Next add soy sauce to taste, star anise, five spice powder and let this boil for 3-4 hours. I usually start cooking this pretty late at night, so I have to cook this over two days. So, a total of about 6-8 hours, depending on how tender you want the beef to be. Now after a few hours of boiling, the water will obviously evaporate, so you’ll have to keep refilling the water. This is my preference. Some people like to keep the soup a little bit thicker and full-tasting. Garnish with green onions, cilantro, Chinese pickled vegetables and hot sauce. Add your favorite greens on top and let it cook in the broth.

This is not the type of NRM you’d see at a restaurant. Kirk’s definitely looks way more authentic, and I’d suggest you try his before you try mine haha. But, if it helps, I have plenty of satisfied customers including my family. I like my soup less stocky and full of flavor. If you like a thicker broth, add corn starch to the beef marinade before you brown the meat. I also prefer thick 1/4” dried noodles over the skinny, spaghetti style noodles you’ll sometimes see at a restaurant.

In addition to making NRM, I have to have my side dishes – Chinese ‘Baan Chan’. A popular favorite is the spicy, garlic cucumbers. Simply use Persian, Japanese or hot house cucumbers or pickles and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Add salt, white pepper, garlic (lots!), chili bean paste (any kind of hot sauce will do) and sesame oil to taste. If it’s too salty, counter balance it with some sugar.

Same goes with another one of my favorites, shredded bean curd. Garnish with cilantro and thin slices of carrots. If you like rice vinegar, it’s a good addition.

This is a great dish to have during the winter. And during hangovers. Enjoy.


Anonymous said...

Hey Dylan - Love the Chinese pickles - nice addition. Actually Hot Bean Paste is part of the traditional Sichuan Recipe, must give it great flavor. And stop being so darn modest - looks great to me! Hey maybe we need to open D&K's Noodle House....LOL! Thanks for the suggestion, I had fun doing this.

BoLA said...

Wow! Looks yummy! Geesh! When do you have time to cook? Hahah! I didn't get home from work until way after 9pm last night and was too tired to even eat anything. Sigh...ah well, I'll be heading out to dinner with my girlfriend tonight. Have fun with my man at Jungle Club...who knows, I may join you one of these days...heheh! ;)

e d b m said...

if you go to respect with us, make sure to bring earplugs and a lot of strawberry vodka/jim beam. haha. thanks for visiting.

kirk, chinese side dishes are great.

Anonymous said...

Dylan - Must say you've inspired me! I'm going to make Chinese fried vinegar potato strings.....can't believe I just had lunch and I'm already thinking about food!

Daily Gluttony said...

Hey Dylan,

I just told Kirk that I was gonna do a Battle of the NRM cookoff in my own kitchen w/ both of your recipes one a' these days. But that's a whole lotta NRM!

BTW, don't you love all these Chinese acroymns...NRM, XLB, etc.?

e d b m said...

i know! people are like what's going on? oh no, there are gangs in the blogworld! haha.

anyone know what BGG stands for? or SDB?

pam, maybe you can use the common ingredients and add a touch of Pam to it. whatever that may be haha. then you can call it Pam's NRB. sriracha? i'm wondering if a tomato would make it taste good. kirk, what do you think? also, do you like ja jiang mian? aka Chinese spaghetti. maybe we can do a joint blog on that next.

susan said...

how do you make the shredded bean curds? or do you buy it like that? by the way, i like your banner. so swanky! :)

e d b m said...

yoony, i buy the prepackaged stuff. right in the tofu section. only $1.79 for a generous portion.

thanks for the banner comment. i'm really into 50s/60s decor.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dylan - Sriracha would definitely make it hotter, tomato would add some nice acid, but would eventually disintergrate, except for maybe the seeds - you'll need to make sure you get rid of those - I've used gochujong to add some heat and sweetness before. The one I get from Ba Ren has Sichuan Peppercorns, and the broth is a bright red - you can imagine how spicy that is....
I'm not a real big fan of Jajiang Mein - so looks like maybe Pam'll be your next JCP (Ha - I'm starting to use all those abbreviations as well - Joint Cooking Post), or maybe you can come up with something else?

Kathy YL Chan said...

Hi Dylan,

Found your post via Kirk. I spent many summers in the Alhambra/Arcadia area and love the vietnamese food there! I've been spoiled by delicious banh mi's and pho:). Thanks to your post, I'm now craving a bowl of NRM (love the nickname!)

Tracy C. said...

Another fellow epicurean! I'm adding you =) Love your banner! I need a cool one too. Come stop by my page at!

susan said...

do you like swag by any chance? his artwork is all centered around 50s motif. its' very cool.

Blogger said...

umm . . . where's the manna review . . . I came into my office today looking forward to your official take! Your NRM looks good, but you know how I like it! Rosemead NOODLE NAZI!

e d b m said...


you mean Josh Agle (SHAG)? of course. he's awesome. i saw his exhibit about 2 years ago.

gary, i'll be posting that this week. the sight of meat as you know is unpleasant at the moment. 11 guys = 21 beers and 13 plates of food. i think we ate a whole cow man. i hate the DAI HO Nazi. i wanna roast that guy in his own spicy, oily ass soup.

susan said...

oops i am a bad speller. shag is so cool. i actually went to see the play that was like shag's world come to life kinda thing. um, it sucked. the set was awesome but they wouldn't stop singing and dancing! a lot of it was dancing and no dialogue. kind of mimey. i really like his take on luncheon on the grass. :)

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