Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

Beef noodle soup probably doesn’t need any introduction. I believe it was the Taiwanese who made it famous, but it is made in different ways: hong shao, ‘red braised’ with a soy saucey color, and also qing dun, which is a clear broth (no soy sauce) with a lighter taste. I’ve also had beef noodle soup where the stock has been cooked with tomatoes, too!

My mom sent me this recipe as the best beef noodle soup recipe she has tried, and I made some small adjustments to it. I’m not really sure if one would consider this Sichuan or Taiwanese, because I think beef noodle soup was made famous by the Taiwanese, but there are Sichuanese components in it, like the fermented soybean paste….We are going to Taiwan at the end of the month, and I am so excited to try all the different ways that beef noodle soup is made!

Edit: So according to this site, they think that the origins of niu rou mian started with Chinese soldiers who fled to Taiwan in 1949. They made a beef soup with the spicy bean paste (that definitely originates from the Sichuan province) and soy sauce, and served it with noodles. So, I think I can confidently call this Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup. Yay!

taiwanese beef noodle soup hong shao niu rou mian

niu rou mian

With homemade wheat noodles and short rib! And bokchoy and cilantro from the garden ๐Ÿ˜€

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup
Hong Shao Niu Rou Mian
Serves 4-6

1 1/2 lb beef bones (marrow or neck bones, or your choice of soup bones)
1 tsp oil
1 1/2 lb beef meat- chuck roast, short rib, shank, cut into 2 inch chunks
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp la dou ban jiang (spicy fermented soy bean paste) click here for a picture of it!
2 inch piece ginger, sliced
5 peeled garlic cloves
2 scallions, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
1 tsp whole Sichuan peppercorns
6 dried peppers (I used Thai chilies- pick your dried chile of choice, such as chile de arbol, or dried red chilies at an Asian market)
2 star anise
1 Tbsp dark soy sauce (optional, for color)
3 Tbsp light soy sauce
Salt (to taste; I added 3/4 tsp)
Chopped pickled mustard greens
Minced scallions
Coarsely chopped cilantro (optional)
Blanched Shanghainese bokchoy or spinach or other leafy green(optional)
1 lb Chinese noodles, cooked

taiwanese beef noodle soup hong shao niu rou mian

UPDATED !! 6/24/2016- I made this with bone-in short rib, and man it was good! I also added some cassia bark (looks like cinnamon but is much chubbier) to the stock.

1) For the stock: Add water to beef bones with just enough water to cover them, then bring to a boil and simmer gently until any meat or marrow turns brown, signaling its cookedness. Drain the water and rinse the bones a few times to get rid of floating grey/brown specks. Add 8 cups of water to the beef bones, then bring to a boil. Simmer on a low heat with the lid off for 1 hour or longer, if you have the time. How low? High enough that you see bubbles breaking the surface, but not low enough that it looks like nothing is happening. After 1 hour or more of simmering, measure the volume of your stock (excluding bones), and add enough water so that you have 8 cups of liquid.

2) For the soup: Add oil to a large heavy bottomed pot, like a Dutch oven, and when the oil is hot, add the chunks of beef and brown them on both sides. Do this in at least 2 batches so that the beef gets a nice sear on the outside.

3) Once all the beef is seared, transfer it to a bowl. Add sugar to the same pot, and stir constantly over low heat to caramelize the sugar. Don’t worry if sugar clumps up on your utensils or in the pot- it will liquefy later. When the sugar gets very dark golden brown, carefully add the meat back in.

4) Stir the meat to help the sugar coat the surface of the meat chunks. Add the la dou ban jiang, and stir constantly, until you can smell the la dou ban jiang. Add the rest of the aromatics- that’s the ginger, garlic, scallions, Sichuan peppercorns, dried peppers, and star anise. Turn the heat to medium and stir and cook until you can smell the garlic, ginger, and scallions, and other aromatics.

5) Add the stock bones to the meat, then the stock and any water you had to add. In this order..unless you like splashing red stuff! Add soy sauces.

6) Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for at least 1 hour 30 minutes. It is done when the soup is rich tasting, and the meat is tender and almost falling apart. Taste and add salt and/or additional light soy sauce as needed. Feel free to reduce the stock by cooking it even longer, or dilute it by adding water and boiling.

7) Boil noodles until al dente. Make sure to drain the noodles well!

8) Serve by portioning out noodles, then ladling meat and sauce over the top. Garnish with pickled mustard greens, scallions, vegetables, and cilantro (if your significant other lets you..sigh). Enjoy!

taiwanese beef noodle soup hong shao niu rou mian

-If you like it even spicier, consider drizzling some chili oil on top before serving!
-This is good served with some plain vegetables- cook some spinach or Taiwanese napa in boiling water before you cook the noodles, then re-boil for your pasta. This would also be good served with something cool and cold, like marinated cucumbers.
-If you can’t do spicy, omit the Sichuan peppercorns and dried peppers, replace the spicy bean paste with dou ban jiang (non-spicy fermented soybean paste๏ผ‰and add 1 halved medium onion, 5 plum tomatoes, and 2 Tbsp tomato paste in step 4. This will give you tomato beef noodle soup.
-If you don’t like flavor bombs of Sichuan peppercorns or dried peppers (I can’t imagine why!), consider using an herb satchet to contain your peppercorns, dried peppers, star anise, and ginger. I am used to picking through aromatics because my mom didn’t bother to fish them all out. Do as you wish!
-The soup tastes better the next day, just like a chili or stew. Consider skimming the fat that will float to the top upon refrigeration.
-The soup freezes very well, so definitely make the whole batch (or double it), so you have more for later!


  1. Angela

    Hey there! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for posting these recipes, I’m getting homesick for Taiwan just reading them! Really appreciate it, going to try cooking these with my parents soon.

    • Megan

      Hey there Angela! Thanks for your kind comment. I do indeed hope these recipes take your tastebuds back to Taiwan! I hope your parents approve of the recipes, too…*eek nervous* Please let me know how they turn out ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Addie

    I used this recipe – doubled the star anise and added a tsp of 5 spice. I also am more into pork than beef, so I used pork ribs. Used the rib bone for the stock and the meat off of the ribs for cutting into the meat chunks.

    It turned out delicious!

    • Megan

      Glad you took the liberty to add extra spices to your liking. I love getting bone-in meat because you get the stock from the bones, too! I’m so happy that you enjoyed the recipe. Thank you for writing to let me know!!
      PS- Hurray for fellow pork lovers!

  3. rajesh kumar

    Hi, many, many thanks for taking the time to share. It was useful for my team. Thanks for all of your hard work. I enjoy your weblog and will sign up to your feed so I will not miss anything. Fantastic content

    • Megan

      Thanks for reading- I hope you continue to enjoy it!

  4. Grant

    I\’m British but I lived in Taiwan for 6 months several years ago and I still think about this soup…

    • Megan

      It’s the best, isn’t it!? There’s nothing quite like it.

  5. Jen

    Can Korean Soy bean paste (doenjang) be substituted for la dou ban jiang? Other than not being spicy is it a very different taste?

    • Megan

      Hi Jen,
      Hmm..I’ve only used doenjang a handful of times, but in my opinion the two taste pretty different. I do think it would make the soup taste more like doenjang chigae than beef noodle soup. I have never tried using it as a substitute, but if it were me, I might add just a teaspoon or so at first, and then try it. At least it will impart some fermenty goodness to the soup! Are you unable to obtain la dou ban jiang where you are?

      • Jen

        Hi Megan, Thanks for your reply. I will look for la dou ban jiang but not sure if I can get it. I live in the Philippines so I\’m sure I can find it somewhere. ๐Ÿ™‚
        Thanks again. I\’m excited to try this and many other dishes you have posted.

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