Last Updated on May 2, 2022 by Share My Kitchen
West Lake Beef Soup is also commonly known as West Lake Minced Beef Soup. It’s a popular Southern Chinese household soup. Just like many family recipes, every household will have its own version. However, one thing is consistent among various versions of recipes, this soup is elegantly savoury. And due to it being light and refreshing, it is perfect as an appetizer. It’s also very easy to make and versatile. Because West Lake Beef Soup is so simple, I make it whenever I have leftovers from other dishes like mushrooms, tofu and cilantro.
Where Did West Lake Soup Get Its Name?
There are many stories about the origin of this soup. One story is that the soup originated in a city in Hong Zhou, the home of the famous West Lake. Another is that the egg white and cilantro with some starch create a look similar to the West Lake’s ripples.
Then there is another one where the soup’s texture is very similar to a “thin mush” (Xi Hu ). Although “Thin Mush Beef Soup,” does not sound appealing, people chose the more fitting (and more appealing) name “West Lake” (Xi Hu ). Regardless of which story you believe, the semi-transparent soup does resemble ripples thanks to the lacy egg whites floating in and out.
Making West Lake Beef Soup
The recipe for West Lake Beef Soup is especially versatile. You can use common ingredients like shiitake mushrooms, minced or ground beef, egg white, cilantro, or tofu. Also, you can substitute beef with minced chicken, or skip the meat entirely, remove the tofu, and just use whole eggs. You can also forgo the cilantro, and use Italian flat parsley instead.
How To Cook West Lake Beef Soup Properly
The most crucial step in making West Lake Beef Soup is to blanch the minced and ground beef first. To avoid clumps, minced or ground beef must be broken up into separate pieces while blanching. This is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. The soup will look clearer and cleaner after blanching. Simultaneously, separating the beef into small pieces helps to maintain the soup’s consistency and texture.
Chicken Corn Egg Drop Soup has a similar sweet and delicate flavor to West Lake Beef Soup. A collection of soups that use pork bone stock is also available.
West Lake Beef Soup Recipe
- Gluten-Free, Low Carb
- Preparation Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Servings: 4 people
Ingredients For The Best West Lake Beef Soup
- 1/4 lb (~100g) minced or ground beef
- 1/4 lg (~100g) silk or soft tofu
- 3 large or 5 small fresh shiitake mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
- 2 egg whites
- ~4 cups water
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- pinch of ground white pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon table salt)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/8 teaspoon table salt)
- 1/2 teaspoon Chinese cooking wine
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger or 3 ginger slices
- 1 tablespoon water if using ground beef
How To Prepare West Lake Beef Soup?
- Mix 1/4 teaspoon of kosher Salt, 1/2 teaspoon Chinese cooking wine and 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger to 1/4 lb (100g), minced or ground beef thoroughly. Allow it to marinate for 10 minutes or more.
- Prepare the rest of the ingredients while the beef is marinating. The 1/4 lb (100g) of tofu should be cut into small cubes. Also, cut the shiitake mushrooms in small pieces. Mix 2 to 3 tablespoons of cornstarch and 2 to 3 tablespoons of water to make starch water. To prevent big lump, beat the egg whites.
- Under medium-high heat, heat a medium saucepan with 4 cups of water. Next, heat another small saucepan filled with water. Once the water in the small saucepan starts boiling, increase the heat to medium. Then transfer the beef to a strainer, lower it into the water (of the small saucepan) to blanch the beef. To make sure the beef does not clump together, use a fork or a spoon to separate the pieces. Once the beef is separated, take the strainer out.
- Once the water in the medium saucepan boils, add the tofu or shiitake mushrooms. Reduce the heat to medium when the water has boiled again. Put in the blanched beef together with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, then stir to mix. Allow the soup to cook another minute or two. Begin stirring the starch water, then slowly add it in one half at a time while gently stirring.
- Once the soup has thickened to the consistency you wanted, add the egg white and stir at the same time. Turn off the heat. Finally, mix the soup with 2 tablespoons of cilantro leaves and more salt to taste.
Notes When Cooking West Lake Beef Soup
- You can make your own minced beef from leftover steak or beef filet. Start by cutting it into thin strips. Next, rotate the strips 90 degrees and cut them into small pieces.
- I prefer fresh shiitake mushrooms to dried ones. Fresh mushrooms add more natural texture. However, you can still use dried shiitakes mushrooms. Rehydrate the mushrooms in hot water for at least 15 minutes to 1 hour before using. There are other types of mushrooms that can be used, including white button or cremini mushrooms.
- It all depends on what type of cornstarch and how much water you use. I don’t usually use all the starch water required for this recipe. Although, it might take more starch water to thicken your soup.
- Ginger slices should be removed before you blanch the beef.