Besides the Hot and Sour Soup, the West Lake Beef Soup (西湖牛肉羹) is probably the next most common soup found in Chinese restaurants in the US. Although the ingredients are simple, this is a gratifying flavorsome soup – with a rich, mellow taste and a silky smooth mouthfeel. The West Lake Beef Soup is a popular local dish of the mountainous ZheJiang (浙江) Chinese province, where the famous West Lake is located.
When I received a reader’s special request for this soup’s recipe, I was very excited to try my hand at making my own version. (Thank you Jason Lau for your request! I hope you will enjoy my recipe.)
One secret to making a soft, smooth West Lake Beef Soup is the beef tenderizing step. There are several different ways to tenderize the beef. A good meat tenderizer like this one will certainly make the meat tenderizing step easy. In my recipe, I chose to use baking soda because I like the soft velvety texture it gives to the meat. This trick, along with the use of soft tofu and egg drop, gives this soup a soft silky mouthfeel. At the end, this soup turned out so well that my husband and I finished all eight servings in one afternoon. We could not bring ourselves to stop eating until the soup pot was empty!
Before sharing my recipe, I want to share with you a few photos of the graceful, breath-taking West Lake. (Big thanks to the nameless photographer(s) who made these photos free for sharing.) After seeing these pictures, I understand why this lake was inscribed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. It is a beautiful, serene place that I hope to visit someday. Besides the West Lake Beef Soup, silk and Longjing (Dragon Well) tea are other wonders from this area that I would like to try.