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Chinese soups

139. Xihu niurou geng (‘West lake’ beef soup)



Ok, I remembered the password eventually! Yeah! Well, with the help from my husband. To be exact, I actually forgot where the login page is, so, of course, the user name and password did not work. Blame my baby brain! You don’t want to know how many things I could simply forget nowadays. So my baby brother has been keeping on telling me, ‘don’t forget my nephew wherever you go’. – How could I forget him, he is my whole world now. :)

Where did I stop last time? Oh, about my trip to China. Well, we are back now, we did spend a great time there with family and friends, but eventually we had to come back… Life… Only I wish the globe is smaller, the distance between China and here is shorter, or no at all, and there is no country boundaries, no complicated visa issues… Oh, I guess just I miss them so much…

Anyway, there are still lots of things to talk about this trip back.

If I say this, probably you won’t believe me, but it is true — I feel like I had a culture shock this time seeing China again! I know – how can a Chinese person has culture shock with her own country? Sadly it is true – China is changing so fast, I found difficult to locate myself. When was I there last time?– Almost three years ago, and when I was there, I only stayed at home properly around two weeks, and spent other time travelling south.  Probably I didn’t have time to really look at the changes. But I am glad that it is not just only me, all the people I met this time told me that there had been again rapid changes / developments in the past three / four years.  However, they are living in it, so probably not as shock as I look at it after 3 / 4  years.

—-   Suddenly I couldn’t recognize the street that I used to love to stroll all the time – it is now all ‘covered’ by sky high buildings — commercials, offices, and extremely expensive residential apartments. When looked up, sky becomes smaller, I suddenly understood the phrase ‘frogs at the bottom of the well’ means, the only romantic part is that clouds gentally floating around the top part of the buildings…

And the commercial buildings are full of big western brands, there are more and more national brands but tagged with price with lots of ‘numbers’.  The streets are filled with super big expensive cars, the numbers of bicycles or pedestrians are getting less and less. Don’t even mention the expended part of the city, new wide and bright (yes, bright) streets, and the trams, which were abandoned years ago, now are becoming a super convenient transport in the city, as well as a mean for people touring the new part of the city, also many western style villas exhibited on the side of the wide road… I am lost, totally lost… Only the noise and the crowd from the street market downstairs where my parents live could remind me this is where I always dreamed to come back to. 

Anyway, I should leave it to be continued in the next post – sorry, you have to bear with me, I am super chatty after this trip…


Shall we talk about recipes again? A soup? I used to buy these ‘ready-to-make’ ones from China, but this time, well, you can imagine, with the little one, my suitcase was full of, and only filled up with his stuff. So I got a bit desperate to have this soup, and the only way was to learn to make it myself. After a few different tries, here is the one got nod from my own food critic – my trustful hubby, actually I got him continues nodding, and had to promise to make it often. Ha…

Ok, it is called ‘Xihu Niurou Geng’. As ‘west lake beef soup’, if you translate it directly. Oh, even it is called ‘west lake’, which is an actual lake famous for its beautiful scene and historical stories in Hangzhou, a city in south China, I don’t really know if it is a dish originally from the area, but ‘geng’ is certainly not the word for soup in northern China. It is supposed to be more ‘dense’ than just northern clear soup. You can get the ‘ready-to-make’ ones from the supermarkets, just add water and whisked egg. But if you like me, could not get one in the ‘nearby’ supermarkets, or really prefer to make it your own, here is the recipe.

Oh, although it is ‘beef’, it is not that heavy, very ‘beefy’ taste type of soup, rather light and fresh, and takes no time to cook. I like it with steamed Chinese bread – for breakfast. J Or a good starter dish probably. J Here you go, the recipe, then you can decide if you like it and what to go with it. :)

There are many versions of this soup, this is one of them that I like.


Beef (only a very small portion, or you can use beef mince)

Mushroom (I used button mushroom, but I think Chinese mushroom is better)

Tofu (optional)

Egg (only white part)

Coriander (a small handful)

Corn flour, salt, grounded white peppercorn, sesame oil, vegetable/chicken/beef stock(optional)


  1. Chop the beef into smallest the bits, or you can use just mince instead, but wash the mince first, otherwise I found the mince can be a bit hard in the soup.

IMG_4718 IMG_4719


2. Quickly ‘rinse’ the beef in boiled water, for getting rid of the extra blood and that ‘raw’ smell.

3. Chop the mushroom, tofu and coriander into small pieces.



4. Whisk an egg, only the white part.

5. Mix a teaspoon of corn flour with water. (1:2)




  1. Boil water in a pot. (I put around 4 rice bowls of water in the pot)
  2. When the water is boiling, add the beef pieces in, keep it boiling for 2-3 mins.








3.Put the tofu and mushroom pieces in, and keep on boiling for further 2 mins. (Approx)

4.Then add salt. (Depends on how you like it, I put in around a bit more than 1/2 teaspoon of salt) Mix with the soup well.

5.Add in mixed corn flour water for thickening.  Keep on stirring.








6.When the soup looks getting thicker, add in whished egg white. Keep on stirring. The egg should be floating nicely in the soup.

7.Then add in grounded white peppercorn, veg/chicken/beef stock (optional), chopped coriander, and a few drops of sesame oil.


— Turn off the fire, ready to serve!

You probably noticed there is something different to my normal way of cooking, for example, add the corn flour thickening before the egg white. It is a way of making the egg ‘spread’ evenly, you can also add the egg first, but then you need to be super fast to add the egg.  I also tried with the egg yolk, because otherwise, I really don’t know what to do with the yolk, but the smell is a bit different, a little ‘eggy’. (Then I found another way of using the yolk – in baking. Yes, when my little one is behaving, or sleeping, I am trying to bake now, with Chinese recipe, baking something I liked so much when I was little.) Oh, one more thing, if you like to keep the fire medium, because I found it is more manageable when boiling.

Ok, too much talking. Don’t think I can make another post before the Christmas, so merry Christmas everyone! Have a good holiday! And thank you so much for bearing with me the super ‘slow’ posting! xxx



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