Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

This classic soup gets its richness from meltingly tender braised beef.

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Shell Royster

Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 35 mins

This immensely popular dish underscores Taiwan’s recent history, as it is made with beef and wheat-based noodles, which weren’t common on the island until the 20th century. As well, it was created by immigrants who came to Taiwan from all over China in the late 1940s, during China’s civil war. Every home cook and restaurant has their own closely guarded formula, but most recipes make use of a tomato and doubanjiang (chili bean sauce) to add savory depth to the broth. Those ingredients are complemented by the star anise, Sichuan peppercorns and the classic aromatics of garlic, ginger and scallions. Much of the appeal of this dish comes from using sliced, boneless beef shank, a cartilage-rich cut that becomes meltingly tender and full of contrasting textures when braised. Look for it in Asian butchers; as an alternative, try using oxtails, which have a similarly gelatinous appeal when braised.


  • 6 tablespoons neutral cooking oil (such as vegetable oil), divided

  • 2 pounds boneless beef shank, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds or 2 pounds oxtails (about 3 large)

  • 6 garlic cloves

  • 2 large scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)

  • 2 small fresh red chiles (such as Thai chiles) (optional) 

  • 1 two-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into coins (about 2 tablespoons)

  • 1 tablespoon rock sugar or granulated sugar

  • tablespoon doubanjiang (Chinese chili bean sauce), or substitute with gochujang

  • 2 plum tomatoes (about 4 1/2 ounces each), chopped (about 2 cups)

  • cup miju (Taiwanese rice wine), or Chinese rice wine for cooking (such as Shaoxing) or dry sake

  • 10 cups water

  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce, plus more to taste

  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce (if unavailable, increase light soy sauce to 1/2 cup)

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice

  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns

  • 2 whole star anise

  • 1 pound cooked Asian wheat noodles (preferably thick and flat varieties)

  • Serving options: chopped green scallions, pickled Chinese mustard greens, drizzle of chile crisp or chile oil


  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high until shimmering, about 1 minute. Working in 2 batches, arrange beef slices in a single layer, and cook, undisturbed, until slightly browned on bottom, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, transfer browned beef to a plate.

  2. Add remaining 3 tablespoons oil to pot; reduce heat to medium-low. Add garlic, scallions, chiles (if using), and ginger. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant and garlic cloves are lightly browned, about 2 minutes. (Be careful not to burn garlic; reduce heat to low, if needed.) Stir in rock sugar and chili bean sauce; cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar melts, 2 to 4 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes; cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes cook down and mixture thickens, 2 to 4 minutes.

  3. Add rice wine to pot; bring to a boil over medium-high, stirring to scrape any browned bits from bottom of pot using a wooden spoon. Add water, soy sauces, salt, and Chinese five spice; return beef to pot. Place Sichuan peppercorns and star anise in cheesecloth, a satchel, or tea ball; add to pot. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover pot, and simmer until beef is meltingly tender but slices remain intact, 2 hours to 2 hours, 30 minutes. Season with additional light soy sauce, if desired. Remove cheesecloth, and discard.

  4. To serve, divide noodles evenly among 6 bowls. Ladle broth evenly over noodles. Arrange beef slices evenly over top (if using oxtails, take meat off bones and shred). Serve with scallions, greens, and chile crisp; serve immediately.


This recipe is updated slightly from the version in Erway’s book, The Food of Taiwan (2015, courtesy of HarperCollins).

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