Considered to be Taiwan’s national dish, beef noodle soup is a staple in restaurants, night markets, and food courts throughout the island country. You can easily find two or three adjacent food stalls serving their original variation on the dish with a devoted fanbase. There's even an annual Beef Noodle Festival, where chefs compete for the title of best beef noodle soup in Taiwan.
While the Taiwanese beef noodle soup has distinctly Sichuan influences, such as spicy bean paste (doubanjiang) and Sichuan peppercorns, the exact dish is nowhere to be found in the Chinese province. That’s because the dish originated from Sichuan veterans who fled to Taiwan from mainland China during the 1940s civil war. Taiwanese beef noodle soup was one of the treasures that emerged from the inter-provincial community and culture that evolved out of the military settlements where soldiers and their families lived.
Taiwanese beef noodle soup is the ultimate comfort food to keep you warm during winter. You’ll love the tender beef stewed for hours in the accompanying savory, full-bodied broth. Traditionally, Taiwanese beef noodle soup is enjoyed with a handful of fresh greens, chopped cilantro, pickled mustard greens, and chili oil. This recipe makes a big batch. So, get ready to invite friends over or save the beef noodle soup for belly-warming leftovers.
- 4 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon white peppercorns (or black peppercorns)
- 3 pounds beef soup bones
- 3 pounds beef shank or chuck (cut into 2-inch cubes)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 head garlic (smashed cloves)
- 6 slices ginger
- 6 green onions (cut into thirds)
- 1 small onion (peeled and quartered)
- 3 Thai chilis (slit lengthwise)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons spicy bean paste (doubanjiang)
- 2 tomatoes (sliced)
- 1/2 cup Shaoxing wine
- 1/2 cup light soy sauce
- 1/4 cup dark soy sauce
- Wheat noodles
- Baby bok choy (washed)
- Garnishes: Cilantro (chopped), pickled mustard greens (chopped), chili oil
Gather the ingredients.
Make a spice sachet with the star anise, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, Sichuan peppercorns, and white peppercorns.
Add the beef soup bones to a large soup pot. Add enough water to cover the bones and bring the water to a boil. Boil the soup bones for 3 minutes. Drain the bones and wash off any foam and residue from the bones. If using beef shank, boil the beef shank for 3 minutes and drain.
Brown the beef chuck or shank with 1 tablespoon of oil for 15 to 20 minutes in a big soup pot until the meat is caramelized. Set aside the browned beef on a plate.
Turn the heat to medium-low. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the soup pot. Add the garlic, ginger, green onions, onion, and chili.
Fry the aromatics until the garlic is lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
Add the sugar, spicy bean paste, and tomatoes. Fry until the tomatoes are softened, about 3 minutes.
Add the Shaoxing wine. Deglaze the soup pot by scraping the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pot.
Add the light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, spice sachet, browned beef cubes, and beef bones to the soup pot.
Turn the heat to high. Add enough water to cover the beef bones.
Once the soup is boiling, turn the heat down to a low simmer. Simmer the soup for 3 hours to stew the meat until tender.
After the soup has simmered for 3 hours, turn off the heat. Remove the beef cubes from the soup and set aside.
Strain the soup through a colander and discard the solids.
Cook your noodles according to the package instructions. Cook the bok choy in the boiling water while the noodles are cooking.
Assemble your beef noodle soup by placing the noodles, bok choy, and beef in a bowl. Ladle the strained soup into the bowl. Garnish with cilantro, pickled mustard greens, and chili oil to taste. Serve and enjoy!
- If you have trouble with making a spice sachet, you can skip it. Just be sure to strain the soup through a fine-meshed strainer so that you do not have peppercorns floating in your soup.
- Traditional Taiwanese beef noodle soup calls for beef shank. However, it might be challenging to find beef shank in your local grocery store. You can use beef chuck and beef soup bones to reproduce the full-bodied soup. Try to find a well-marbled cut of beef chuck to provide extra flavor if you’re substituting for beef shank.
- Find spicy bean paste (doubanjiang), Sichuan peppercorns, and white peppercorns in your local Asian grocery store or from an online retailer. If you can’t track them down, skip the spicy bean paste and substitute with black peppercorns.