Taiwanese Tan Tsai Noodles

Taiwanese Tan Tsai Noodle

Chris Radley Photography 

Prep: 60 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 2 hrs
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
484 Calories
22g Fat
13g Carbs
54g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 484
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22g 29%
Saturated Fat 7g 33%
Cholesterol 148mg 49%
Sodium 2316mg 101%
Total Carbohydrate 13g 5%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Protein 54g
Calcium 72mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

One of our favorite dishes in Taiwanese cuisine Taiwanese Tan Tsai noodle (擔仔麵). Tan Tsai Noodles are one of the best kinds of foods for the cold and wet weather we have here in Scotland most of the year around. We believe no one will say no to a big bowl of hot and tasty noodle soup. Tan Tsai noodles are really versatile; they can be eaten either dry or with soup and they are equally delicious either way.

The story of Tan Tsai noodle began in 1895 with a fishmonger/fish man called Mr. Hong. Mr. Hong, whose family migrated to Fucheng from Zhanghzhou where he learned how to cook noodles while making a living from catching fish. After some time, he moved to Tainan in Taiwan where he continued to make a living from catching fish.

In Taiwan, there are numerous festivals to celebrate various things but in March we have one festival called the “Tomb-Sweeping Festival” (清明節), and another called the Moon Festival which is held in August. Between these seasons there is a period called the ‘Slack Season” where fishermen can’t go out to fish as often due to bad weather, so Mr. Hong began selling noodles to support his family.

His noodles had a really unique taste so they became really popular. They became so popular he decided to sell his noodles full time so during the start of his noodles business he would carry his noodles on shoulder poles so he could sell them on the streets. Mr. Hong decided to call his noodles “Slack season Tan Tsai noodles”.

In modern times these noodles are known as “Tu Hsian Yueh Tan Tsai noodles”. “Tu Hsian Yueh” (度小月) means “slack season” in Chinese and “Tan Tsai” translates to shoulder poles in Taiwanese. 


  • For the Noodle Broth/Stock:
  • 1 lb. chicken (bones)
  • Garnish: 6 prawns (shells and head)
  • Handful of bonito flakes (katsuobushi)
  • 3 spring onions (cut it into 3 cm lengths)
  • 2 ginger (sliced)
  • 2 (2 1/2 liters) water (or enough to cover all the ingredients)
  • For the Mince Sauce:
  • 400 g. pork (minced)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (light)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (dark)
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 2 tablespoon shallots (fried)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper (ground)
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (rock or demerara)

Steps to Make It

Procedures for the Noodle Broth/Stock

  1. Remove the shells from the prawns and use a little bit of oil to sauté the prawn shell.

  2. Roast the chicken bone in the oven until the bone gets some color on it.

  3. Put everything into a stockpot and cover the ingredients with water.

  4. Boil it first then simmer for 2 hours. It’s now ready to serve with noodles. 

Procedure for Mince Sauce

  1. Heat up 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok and stir-fry the pork until it’s cooked on the outside.

  2. Add all the ingredients and mix them evenly. Boil it first then simmer for around 30 minutes to reduce down half of the sauce.

Final Procedures for Tan Tsai Noodle

  1. Poach the prawns and vegetables in a pot of boiling water first then take them out and leave aside. Then use the same water to cook the noodles.

  2. Place noodles and some minced garlic (optional) into a bowl and pour some mince sauce on top. Garnish with prawn and vegetables and add the soup. Ready to serve!