Tag Archives: Chef Hou Chun-sheng

Chef Hou in the Bay Area

This month, the 2011 Taipei International Beef Noodle Festival champion, Chef Hou Chun-sheng, visited the San Francisco Bay Area to promote Taiwan’s food culture. During his visit (Feb 4-13) he showcased his signature recipe in a series of cooking demonstrations and food programs.

Chef Hou at Google

Chef Hou at Google

Asian Society banquet

Asia Society dinner


Interview with KTSF TV in San Francisco

Sacramento TV Station

Cooking demonstration at KCRA TV in Sacramento with Press Officer Janet Chang

State Capitol

Chef Hou honored at California's State Capitol with TECO's Director-General Jack Chiang to his right, Assemblyman Richard Pan (left of Hou) and Senator Leland Yee (right of Chiang)

State Capitol

Chef Hou before the State Capitol holding his resolution from California's Assembly and Senate

State Capitol

Chef Hou with Jack Chiang (on right end) and the menbers of California's Assembly and Senate

Chef Hou at William-Sonoma

Cooking demonstration at Williams-Sonoma's flagship store, San Francisco

Taiwan chef honored at California’s State Capitol

On February 9, the California State Legislature unanimously passed a resolution to honor Taiwan’s recent Beef Noodle Soup winner, Chef Hou Chun-sheng, by recognizing that he was “committed to enhancing the bilateral relationship between Taiwan and the State of California through the promotion of California’s beef and wheat industries.” Hou, the chef of well-known nightclub Room 18 in Taipei, won the championship at the 2011 Taipei International Beef Noodle Festival.

With the help of the Press Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in San Francisco, Hou came to the Bay area to participate in four cooking demonstrations and events promoting Taiwan’s iconic beef noodle soup. During his visit from February 4 to 13, more than 1,000 people in the Bay Area enjoyed his signature dish.

A daily favorite among Taiwanese people, beef noodle soup used to be known as “Sichuan beef noodles,” though no such dish originated from Sichuan province, China. The dish was invented by mainland immigrants to Taiwan in 1949 and has been a popular mainstay of Taiwanese meals ever since. It can be readily found in Taiwan’s many food alleys and also on the tables of expensive restaurants and hotels. A bowl of beef noodles can cost from US$2 to $200. Given its popularity, many consider beef noodle soup to be the national dish of Taiwan.

Manfred Peng, press director of TECO in San Francisco, pointed out that with the popularity of Italian pasta, Vietnamese pho and Japanese ramen in the San Francisco Bay Area, finding fans for Taiwan’s beef noodles should be easy. With this in mind, the introduction of Taiwan’s beef noodles to Americans who already enjoyed a diet of beef and noodles did not seem that radical.

Peng noted that Chinese restaurants in the US normally offer cheap dishes, and are mostly limited to Cantonese cuisine. He tried to distinguish Taiwanese food from the stereotypical Chinatown fare so that Americans would have a greater understanding of Taiwan’s culinary treasures. His strategy was to emulate the examples of the Thai restaurants around the world, by elevating the quality and setting. Instead of using a Chinese restaurant, Peng set the events at selected fine French and Italian restaurants and chose the high-quality kitchenware supplier, Williams-Sonoma, as another partner.

During his week-long stay in California, Hou cooked as a guest chef at Google’s Café Jia, followed by an evening program with the Asia Society of Northern California at L’Olivier Restaurant. On February 9, California Assemblyman Richard Pan, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, and Leland Yee, a Chinese American senator, co-hosted a wonderful reception at the lovely Spataro Restaurant, just across the street from the California State Capitol building, to introduce Taiwan’s iconic beef noodle soup. Hou completed his Bay Area visit with a cooking demonstration at the demonstration kitchen of Williams-Sonoma’s flagship store in Union Square.

In welcoming Chef Hou, Dr. Pan said, “It is an honor for me, coming from a Taiwanese-American family, to be able to host Chef Hou and recognize the strong bonds between our cultures….Food is among the strongest bonds we see between cultures. It promotes health, trade and friendship and you’ll find all of these ingredients go into a delicious bowl of Chef Hou’s international award-winning beef noodle soup.”

“As we celebrate the Year of the Dragon, it is great for all Californians to see and understand the connection our state has with Asia, including the various ingredients of Chef Hou’s famous beef noodle soup,” Senator Yee said. “Our economies and cultures are inextricably linked through traditions, agriculture, and many commodities.”

“This is my first visit to the States,” Chef Hou said. “I am honored to demonstrate my work on Taiwan’s beef noodle soup in the capital of California. I know this state is culturally diverse and the people here easily accept foreign food cultures. I hope that they will enjoy my work and get to know Taiwan’s cuisine.”

“Chef Hou came to California to promote Taiwan’s food culture,” said Director-General Chiang of TECO in San Francisco. “Taiwanese cuisine is delicious, colorful, innovative, and has plenty of variety. Chef Hou’s visit will foster the American people’s understanding of the island’s gourmet culture. I do appreciate his efforts to publicize Taiwan’s soft power in California.”

Following the presentation, Chef Hou prepared the award-winning beef noodle soup recipe for over 125 guests. The event was co-hosted by the Sacramento Chapter of the California Restaurant Association and local restaurateur Randy Paragary, co-owner of Spataro.

Chef Hou continued on to Washington DC on February 13 and cooked for another 1,000 -plus fans of Taiwan’s beef Noodle soup.

Taste Chef Hou’s Beef Noodle Soup on Feb 8th in San Francisco

Chef Hou chun-sheng, the winner of the 7th Taipei International Beef Noode Soup competition will be serving his signature dish and chatting with Narsai David, food and wine writer for KCBS, at L’Olivier Restaurant (465 Davis Court, San Francisco) on Wednesday evening, February 8.

Tickets for the 5:30pm event are $25. To register online, please visit http://asiasociety.org/calendars/taiwanese-beef-noodle-soup-chef-hou-chun-sheng) or read more about Chef Hou here.

The event is sponsored by Asia Society of Northern California and Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in San Francisco.

Chef Hou’s recipe for Beef Noodle Soup

Created in Taiwan, the beef noodle soup (new row mien) is a popular street food on the island. This is Chef Hou Chun-sheng winning recipe at the 2011 Taipei International Beef Noodle Soup Festival. It has been modified to serve 10 large bowls.

As in many Taiwanese food recipes, the measurement of the ingredients varies, depending on your experience and personal taste. In addition, the special herbs are not easy to find outside Chinatowns. This recipe is not for the faint of heart, but then again, were you expecting a championship-winning recipe to be? For your reference, you can see pictures of Chef Hou preparing his signature dish. Good luck!

2.25 lbs boneless beef shanks
2.25 lbs beef bones, pieces
4 tbsp vegetable oil for sauteing
6 green onions, 4 roughly chopped into 3” for stock and sauce, 2 stalks finely sliced for topping
12-14 garlic cloves
2 inches ginger, sliced (not too think or thick)
1 red hot chili peppers, halved
2 tbsp rock sugar (about 1 oz)
¾ cup hot bean paste (or around 4 oz)
1 cup soy sauce, preferably Kimlan
½ cup spicy fermented bean curd (or around 5 oz)
¼ cup tomato paste
1 tbsp black peppercorn (around 1 oz)
2 Bay leaves, large (depending on size)
4 ½ tbsp soy paste, preferably Kimlan (around 2 oz)
2 ½ tbsp dark soy sauce, preferably Lee Kum Kee (around 1.3 oz)
1 head of Romaine lettuce, chopped into 1” slices (roughly 1 lbs)
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, peeled and chopped into .25” cube
¼ cup cilantro, (optional topping)
2 Chinese herb bags: contains one part (.8 gram each) of Star Anise (pa-chiao), Fennel (huei-hsiang), Angelica roots (tang-kuei), and dried orange peel (cheng-pi); as well as three parts (2.5 grams each) of Pericarpium Zanthoxyli (hua-chiao), Cassia buds (kuei-tze), Cinnamon peel/bark (kuei-pi), and Cinnamon stick (kuei-chi). (The Chinese herbal shop uses a measurement system that does not have an English equivalent, however we converted it to the metric system to give you a better idea of the quantities involved.)
Fresh noodle, depending on your preference and what’s available locally

Preparing the broth
1) Boil about 1 gallon of water and beef bones and filter out impurities.
2) Heat half of the oil and saute half of the green onions, ginger, garlic and red hot chilly peppers until you get a nice fragrant smell. Add half of the rock sugar, hot bean paste, soy sauce to the vegetables and cook slightly before combining it to the beef bone broth.
3) Then add half the fermented bean curd and all the tomato paste.
4) Lastly, include half of the the black peppercorn, bay leaves and one Chinese seasoning bag to the broth.
5) Simmer for 6 hours then strain through a sieve. You can skim the fat off, but Chef Hous believe leaving the fat locks in more of the fragrant favors, so he usually ladles around it.

Preparing the beef shank
1) Cook the beef shank with just enough water to cover the meat, boil the meat until it’s cooked through. Let it cool and then sliced into oval disks, about one-third inch thick. Save the beef water for later.
2) Sauté the remaining green onions, ginger, garlic and red hot chili peppers in vegetable oil until it’s fragrant. Add the remaining rock sugar, hot bean paste and soy sauce, cook briefly.
3) Add the remaining fermented bean curd, and all the soy paste and dark soy sauce, before adding the rest of the black peppercorn, bay leaf and Chinese herb packet.
4) Place the sliced beef shanks into the sauce and add just enough beef water to cover the beef slices. Stir to ensure even mixing. Cover and cook for at least 30 minutes, if you like your meat tender, cook for a couple of hours more. Keep the pot covered while it’s cooling down. Strain and save the sauce. Separate the meat from the dreg.

Preparing the noodle and assembling the dish
1) Boil the water, add the noodle and cook until done. Cool and Drain.
2) Remove the skin from the tomatoes, and chop them into ¼ inch cubes. (You can peel tomatoes easily by make a small cut on the skin, dropping it into boiling water for a few seconds. The skin will separate from the flesh. Take it out and dip into cold water)
3) Chop the Romaine lettuce into 1 ½ inch shreds. Flash cook the lettuce in boiling water, if your broth is not hot enough.
4) Combine four parts broth to one part sauce, or according to your personal taste.
4) Put noodles into the bowl, top with beef shanks, lettuce, tomatoes, chopped green onions and cilantro. Spoon the mixed broth on top. Enjoy.





Winner of Taiwan’s Beef Noodle Soup Festival to visit San Francisco

Join Chef Hou Chun-sheng for a demonstration of how to make his prize-winning beef noodle soup. Hou is the recent champion at the “2011 Taipei International Beef Noodle Soup Festival” in Taiwan. Out of 189 contestants, the top 40 chefs were weeded out for the final leg in four different beef noodle soup categories. Hou came in first in the most popular category – spicy braised beef noodle soup.

Created in Taiwan in the 1950s, the spicy braised beef noodle soup (new row mien) is a popular street food on the island. As an affordable daily main meal for Taiwanese people, the beef noodle soup costs about US$2.00 to US$5.00 per bowl at noodle shops or snack bars. However, at five-star restaurants and gourmet food stores which use expensive ingredients and exquisite cut of beef, prices may go up from US$100.00 to US$1,000.00 per bowl. There are currently more than 300 specialty beef noodle soup shops in Taipei alone.

Like Vietnamese phở and Japanese ramen, the dish has its own cult following in the United States. The soup’s wonderful flavor is in the long simmering broth spooned over stewed beef, noodles and vegetables.

The Press Division of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in San Francisco, sponsored by Taiwan’s Government Information Office, have already put together a schedule of cooking and food discussions in collaboration with Google Inc., the Asia Society (Northern California), Williams-Sonoma (San Francisco) and Sacramento from February 8th to 11th. These are just some of the initial programs to promote Taiwan’s cuisine in the United States.

Hou’s special culinary skills in making Taiwanese beef soup noodles, along with his recent championship title, will lend additional cachet to the programs and enable the attendees to experience a truly authentic taste of this treasured national dish. He will take the audience through the steps in creating his signature dish, which includes a rich broth flavored with tomato paste, fermented bean curd sauce and his own Chinese herbal mixture.

With a long career in the culinary arts, Hou spent two years observing, researching and developing his beef soup noodles in order to participate in the festival’s 7th competition. As the chef of a night club in Taipei, he won the championship competition on his first try and now hopes to open a beef soup noodle shop in the near future.