Taiwanese beef noodle soup is a rich comforting bowl of noodles in hot broth accompanied by tender braised beef. I grew up eating this dish and I finally made it myself and it’s even better than I remember. The typical garnishes are green onions, bok choy, and pickled vegetables.
Water levels and ways to get the perfect rich broth
As a starting point, I would add just enough water to cover your beef and vegetables. This is important in order for the beef to braise properly and become tender. However, if you add too much water, then the broth will not be rich enough. Too little water, and the broth will be very rich and salty.
What to do if I add too much water?
If you do end up adding too much water, there is an easy way to fix it. First remove all the meat and vegetables, making sure that the beef is cooked to your liking. Then, just place your broth over high heat uncovered until the broth has reduced to your desired taste. I would give it a taste test every 10-15 minutes to see how you like it.
What to do if I added too little water and my broth turns very rich and salty?
If you end up adding too little water and the broth is very rich and salty, then there is an even easier way to fix this. Just add boiling water to your bowl of noodles and adjust accordingly.
Key ingredients for Taiwanese beef noodle soup
Chili bean paste or spicy toban djang (辣豆瓣醬)
This chili bean paste or dou ban jiang is an extremely important ingredient that you can find at a Chinese grocery store. It is red in color, salty, and slightly spicy. Here is a picture of the brand I used:
Braising beef for Taiwanese beef noodle soup
The cut of beef you use really doesn’t matter. Usually, it’s a cut of beef that is relatively inexpensive, tough, but contains a lot of connective tissue. A very popular choice for this dish is beef shank, however other cuts like brisket or chuck work as well. If you’ve got money to spend then short ribs work as well but you really don’t need to be spending the extra $30/lb for it.
Secret bag of aromatics
So this secret bag of aromatics is not actually so secret or specially at all. It consists of star anise, cinnamon stick, dried orange peel, and bay leaves. Feel free to add more aromatics such as peppercorns, or cardamom pods. It also isn’t necessary to put them in a bag.
Noodles for Taiwanese beef noodle soup
For this specific dish, I really love using Shanghai thick noodles. These are fresh noodles that come packaged as seen in the picture below. They are fresh and be sure not to cook them in the broth. Noodles release starch when cooked and this will cause your broth to thicken. The texture is firm and chewy which goes perfect with a noodle soup. Feel free to experiment with any other type of noodles you like though.
Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup
- 500 g Shanghai thick noodles
- 2-3 lbs beef shank (about 3 boneless beef shank)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 slices ginger
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 2 scallion whites
- 6 cloves crushed garlic
- 3 dried red chillies
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp chili bean sauce (toban djang 辣豆瓣醬)
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- ¼ cup Shaoxing rice wine
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 star anise
- 1 dried orange peel
- 1½ – 2 L water
- Cut your boneless beef shank into 2-3 inch pieces then place the beef in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with water to clean.
- Prepare your vegetables. Quarter your onion, slice ginger, cut scallion whites into 3 inch segments, and crush garlic.
- In a pot or wok, heat up oil over medium-high heat. Add ginger, onions, scallion whites, garlic, and dried red chilies. Stir for 1 minute.
- Add sugar, chili bean sauce, tomato paste, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and Shaoxing rice wine. Stir for 2 minute until bubbles.
- Add that mixture into your pressure cooker pot along with the drained beef, water, and aromatics. Add just enough water to cover the beef about 1½ – 2 liters.
- Pressure cook accordingly for 45 minutes or until beef is tender. If you don't have a pressure cooker, allow this to simmer covered for at least 3 hours until the beef is completely tender.
- Cook Shanghai thick noodle in boiling water for 2 minutes.
- Assemble your bowl with bok choy, tender beef, broth, and green onions.
- TIP: if you find there is not enough flavor in the broth, place it over the stove on high heat uncovered and let it reduce for 10-20 minutes or until you desired richness.
If you enjoyed this, check out some more noodle recipes here: