West Lake Beef Soup

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Preparation info

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Appears in

Homestyle Chinese Cooking

Homestyle Chinese Cooking

By Yan-Kit So

Published 1997

  • About

This soup purports to celebrate the picturesque and most famous lake in China, the West Lake, not too far away from Shanghai. To be absolutely correct, a small amount of only the leaves of watercress should float on the soup’s misty surface, which is caused by the use of egg white. But I have used the stalk of the watercress as well because I don’t see any point in wasting such a precious and delicious vegetable. If there is no watercress, just use some individual leaves of cilantro, good for decoration and taste.


  • 6 ounces beef, rump or fillet, trimmed and cut across the grain into rectangular slices about ½x 1¼ inches and ¼ inch thick
  • 4 cups unseasoned chicken stock
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 bunch, about 4 ounces, watercress, trimmed, washed, and well drained


  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons thin soy sauce
  • 6-8 turns white pepper mill
  • teaspoons Shaoxing wine or medium-dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 small egg white
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  • Marinate the beef. Add the salt, sugar, soy sauce, pepper, wine or sherry, and cornstarch to the beef and stir in the same direction to coat. Add the water and stir again until absorbed. Add the egg white, stirring again. Leave to stand in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes. Blend in the oils.
  • Pour the stock into the wok and bring to a simmer. Add the salt and the oil. Add the beef, stir vigorously a couple of times with a pair of bamboo chopsticks or a wooden spoon, and return to a simmer. Remove at once from the heat. The beef will be still slightly underdone in the center and very tender. Submerge the watercress in the soup. Ladle either into a large soup tureen or individual soup bowls. Serve immediately.

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