Love Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup? This wonderfully warming, deliciously rich beef noodle broth is so full of flavour and is the perfect comfort food. It's also easy to make and only requires a bit of time (leave it on in the slow or pressure cooker!). This is a pushy recipe Dear Reader!
I'm going to warn you about something my lovelies. That is: the smell of this Taiwanese beef noodles soup or "niu rou mian" cooking may drive you wild. I could barely concentrate when I was making this and little Mr Teddy Elliott was the same. This beef noodle soup is a combination of spices and aromas in a rich beef soup with melting beef pieces.
What is Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup? This delicious soup goes back as far as the Tang dynasty and was invented by the Hui Muslim people, an East Asian ethnic group. There are Lanzhou Beef Noodle restaurants that specifically sell a version of this but in a clear broth. However this recipe is for the spicier version is called red braised beef noodle soup or Sichuan beef noodle soup and was created in Taiwan by Kuomintang Chinese Nationalist Party veterans.
Beef Noodle Soup is served as a meal in itself in large bowl with a dark coloured broth and white noodles. The beef used in a beef shank or shin although sometimes brisket is used as well as tripe or tendons. It is served with pickled mustard greens or "Suan Cai" on top as well as sliced green onions.
Gravy beef or sliced beef shin/shank (you can also keep as large slices on the right)
What is beef shank or shin? Beef boneless shank or boneless shin comes from the lower hind leg, lower front leg or neck and is called gravy beef in Australia. It is a highly worked part of the cattle with lots of collagen and connective tissue. Gravy beef is a relatively inexpensive cut that requires slow cooking. For this reason it is ideal in stews and soups.
Bone in or out? For this recipe you use boneless shin or gravy beef. When you leave the bone in, it is called Osso Bucco. It is usually sold here already cut into slices like Osso Bucco.
What type of beef is best? My gravy beef is tough My biggest tip is to use a wagyu beef shin for a wonderful melting texture. Sometimes gravy beef can be a bit dry in texture and using wagyu helps in this because of the marbling of fat. You may have to get your butcher to order it in.
What if you have a whole boneless beef shin? Put a pot of water onto boil and place the whole shin in. Simmer for 5 minutes, remove with tongs and then slice.
What if I don't have a lot of time? This soup is versatile in terms of how you cook it. In the pressure cooker it only takes 1.5 hours!
Chilli Bean Paste: I use Lao gan ma or Godmother's chilli bean sauce that is available at the supermarket in the Asian section. You do want to try to get a Chinese bean sauce as it adds such great flavour from the black beans used. It's usually not labelled in English but just look for the lady's face on the bottle. By the way, she is Tao Huabi who had her own noodle shop in Guizhou. The shop became known for its wonderful chilli sauce and she decided to take the sauces into production shutting down the noodle shop. She was named the Godmother because she took care of her workers in such a caring manner. She also happened to be widowed single mother who was also illiterate.
Cassia vs cinnamon: cassia bark is often what is sold as cinnamon. In this recipe, you can use a cinnamon stick.
What sort of noodles are best to use for Beef Noodle Soup? Fresh noodles are best (refrigerated, not dried). I used white Yangchun noodles but any sort of similar white fresh noodles will work.
Does this beef noodle soup improve over time? This keeps really well and improves with age! We ate this over the period of 3 days. It is best to cook the noodles and bok choy fresh each day and then heat up the soup and beef.
I loved this so much that I wanted to make a second batch pretty much straight away again because it is such comfort food and hey 2020 has definitely needed some of that!
Recently on twitter I saw a meme where it said that the last 6 emojis you used represented how you were handling the pandemic and coping with 2020. I took a look and it was true. It was a combination of fear, love, cake with laughing and a random eggplant (I had just made eggplant). I put it up on my Instagram story and suddenly I had lots of people sending me their six latest emojis.
"Eek" emoji, fourth from left
It turns out that most people have the "eek" emoji which seems fitting. I mean if there's one emoji to sum up the chaos of 2020 that is really it. It's the one I use when I open up the news to find out what crazy thing is now about to destroy the earth this week to the latest virus numbers.
The other common one? The LOL emoji (first on the left above) which just shows you've got to keep some sort of sense of humour about 2020, even if you're completely eeking inside. A little message to readers in Melbourne and Victoria who are living under new restrictions, stay strong and stay well. We're behind you and want you to overcome this too!
So tell me Dear Reader, what are your six most used emojis and do they represent how you're coping with 2020? You get these from looking at your keyboard and writing the first 6 on the left. Have you ever tried Taiwanese beef noodle soup?
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup!
Rated 5.0 out of 5 by 6 readers
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes (pressure cooker) to 8 hours (slow cooker)
Serves: 6 people
- Oil for frying
- 1.2 kgs/2.7lbs of wagyu gravy beef or beef shin, cut into large chunks (or you can keep them as large slices too)
- 1 large onion, peeled and sliced
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- 5cms/2inch ginger, peeled and chopped
- 1-2 red chillies (small or large, depending on how hot you want it)
- 1 large tomato (around 200g/7ozs), sliced
- 4 sticks green onion, cut into inch long pieces
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup Shaoxing cooking wine
- 4 tablespoons/60g/2ozs. tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons/45g/1.6ozs. chilli bean paste*
- 5 cups/1.25L/44flozs. water
- 3 cups/750ml/25flozs. beef stock
- 4 star anise
- 1 piece cassia bark or cinnamon stick
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 50-90g/1.7-3ozs. sugar (I prefer it sweeter so I use 90g/3ozs.)
- 1 carrot, peeled and sliced into coins
- 1.5kg/3.3lbs white noodles
- 6 pak choy, split in half if they are large
- 1/2 cup spring onions, sliced
- 3 tablespoon sesame seeds
This is the chilli bean paste that I use. It is available at supermarkets and Asian grocery stores.
Step 1 - Heat the pressure cooker, cast iron pot or instant pot on sauté and add some oil and brown the beef on all sides and do this in 3 lots. Remove and set aside. Then add more oil and sauté the onion, garlic, ginger and chillies for 2-3 minutes until the onion is softened. Add the tomato and green onion and fry for 2 or so minutes until tomato is soft.
Step 2 - Add the beef back in as well as the soy sauce, Shaoxing cooking wine, tomato paste, chilli bean paste, water, beef stock, star anise, cassia or cinnamon, bay leaves, ground coriander, cumin seeds, Chinese five spice and white pepper. Leave the sugar and carrot out for now.
Pressure cooker or instant pot directions: Set on high/meat for 1 hour. Allow to release pressure before opening.
Slow cooker directions: cook on 7 hours on medium or low
Stovetop: place lid on and bring to a simmer and cook for 4 hours.
Step 3 - When the time is up, add the sugar to the broth tasting for flavour. I like it sweeter so I add the full amount and I think it tastes much better that way. Add the carrot and then cook for the following times.
Pressure cooker/Instant Pot: cook on high for 10 minutes.
Slow cooker: cook for 1 hour.
Stovetop: Cook for 30 minutes.
Step 4 - Cook the noodles in plenty of boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove from the water and drain under cold water. Dunk the boy choy in the noodle water and blanch for 1 minute or until soft. Divide the noodles among the bowls and place 2 pak choy halves per bowl. Top with soup, sesame seeds and green onions.