Taiwanese Spicy Beef Noodle Soup is a delicious noodle in a rich and deep broth made from soy sauce, tomatoes, aromatics and braised beef shank. This version contains beef shank as well as beef tendon and is made in an Instant Pot for ease and convenience.
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This post first appeared on Sift & Simmer in November 2017. Updated April 2021.
My first time trying Taiwanese beef noodle soup was when my uncle took us out to Chef Hung's. I opted for their signature spicy beef noodle soup.
The noodles were perfectly chewy, and the broth was rich and beefy with hints of star anise.
I ordered the noodles with beef roll pancakes and some dumplings, and it was the perfect meal in my mind.
What are Taiwanese Beef Noodles?
Taiwanese Beef Noodles are a noodle soup dish from Taiwan.
The rich, savoury and flavourful beef broth is flavoured with aromatics, spices and beef bones.
Alternatively, it is also known as braised beef noodle soup, red roasted beef noodle soup or Sichuan beef noodle soup.
Sometimes tomato is added to the broth for a deeper umami flavour.
The beef broth is paired with thick or thin chewy wheat noodles, chunks of slow-simmered beef and pickled mustard greens.
Is Taiwanese beef noodle similar to Vietnamese beef pho?
Taiwanese beef noodle soup does have a similar flavouring profile to Vietnamese beef pho, except for a few differences:
- Taiwanese beef noodles uses wheat noodles whereas Vietnamese pho uses rice noodles
- Vietnamese pho does not use soy sauce in the broth; it uses fish sauce instead
- Spicy Taiwanese beef noodle soup uses dou ban jiang (red fermented broad bean paste) as a dominant flavour
Ingredients in beef noodles
For the beef broth, you'll need:
- beef shank: you can use beef shank with or without bones; it is a tough meat that usually needs a long time to cook until tender.
- beef tendon: is the connective tissue that connects the muscle to the bones and also takes a long time to cook as well; it is optional if you don't like tendon.
- aromatics: onion, garlic, ginger, green onion: adds some sweetness and sharpness to the broth.
- tomato: some styles use tomato, some don't; I like the addition of tomato, cut into halves to boost that umami, savoury flavour of the beef.
- dark soy sauce: gives the soup broth a darker colour, and is less salty than light soy sauce.
- light soy sauce: adds saltiness to the broth.
- dou ban jiang: is red fermented broad bean paste; the key ingredient in any Taiwanese beef noodle soup; also used in Mapo Tofu. You can find dou ban jiang in Asian supermarkets in jars. If you can't find it, try substituting with chili sambal sauce instead.
- rock sugar: adds sweetness to balance the broth; is a sugar with large crystals that you can find in Asian supermarkets. You can use granulated sugar in place of it.
- salt: I used sea salt, but you can use any salt you like.
- black bean paste: are salted black beans that come in jars, or small packages. You can find them in Asian supermarkets, but you can omit if you can't find it. Or substitute with a black bean garlic sauce instead.
- Shaoxing wine: a cooking wine commonly used in Asian cuisine; use a dry sherry if you can't find Shaoxing wine.
- beef broth + water: top with enough water to cover the beef and all the ingredients.
- star anise: shaped like a star and is used commonly in pho; has a fennel aroma and taste
- fennel seed: are small seeds, oval in shape and are light pale green/tan in colour
- black cardamom pods: are black in colour and impart a dark, smoky flavour to broths
- bay leaf: use whole bay leaf, which will add subtle flavouring to the soup
- Sichuan peppercorns: shaped like small buds, these pack a tingly numbing sensation, commonly found in Sichuan cuisine; if you don't like spice, you can omit or decrease the amount.
- cinnamon stick if you don't have cinnamon stick on hand, you can use a ⅛ teaspoon of cinnamon powder -- just add it directly to the broth.
The key ingredient in spicy beef noodle soup
Dou ban jiang is one of the key ingredients to making this beef noodle soup. It's a paste made from fermented broad beans, soybeans and various spices.
It is what also gives it a spicy kick, but you may omit it if you're not into spice. Just double up on the black bean paste instead.
You can find jarred dou ban jiang in Asian supermarkets.
How to make beef noodle soup using an Instant Pot
Clean the beef shank/bones/tendon:
Clean the beef shank/bones/tendon under cold running water.
Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil and place the beef shank/tendon in.
Boil for 10 minutes, and drain the beef shank/bones/tendon.
Rinse under cold water and place beef shank/bones/tendon into the Instant Pot.
Toast the spices:
In a frying pan, lightly toast the spices over low heat, until aromatic.
Place the spices into a cheesecloth and tie with string.
Place the spice packet into the Instant Pot.
Add the seasonings:
To the Instant Pot, add in the broth seasonings: dou ban jiang, black bean paste, dark and light soy sauce, shaoxing wine, 5-spice powder, garlic, ginger, green onions, tomatoes, rock sugar, and salt.
Pour in the beef broth and top with water.
Cook in the Instant Pot:
Place the lid on, set the valve to SEAL, and set for 65 minutes at HIGH PRESSURE.
Let the pressure release naturally.
Remove the meat/bones from the soup and set aside. Discard the bones. Cut the beef shank and tendon into large chunks.
Taste the soup broth and adjust accordingly.
Strain the soup through a sieve and discard the spice packet and veggies.
How to make it in a crockpot
Follow the same instructions as above, and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours, until the beef tendon and shank are tender.
Which type of noodles should I use?
You can use thin or thick wheat noodles for Taiwanese beef noodle soup.
It can be fresh or dried -- just cook the noodles according to the package instructions.
Drain the noodles and give them a quick rinse in cold water. This helps the noodles retain that chewy texture.
Can I cook the noodles before hand?
It's best to cook the noodles right before you're ready to enjoy them.
What type of veggies pairs well with the noodles?
You can use any Chinese leafy green vegetable, such as bok choy, yu choy, or choy sum.
How to store the leftovers?
I prefer to store the beef shank and tendon separately from the noodles and soup.
You can store the beef broth in glass containers and place into the fridge for up to 1 week.
Store the cut beef shank and tendon in a separate container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Can you freeze the soup?
Alternatively, you can divide the beef broth into portions and freeze in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
That way, you can easily defrost a portion of soup for those nights where you want noodle soup.
How to reheat leftovers?
Pour the beef soup broth into a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
You can add the beef shank and tendon into the soup to heat through.
In a separate pot, cook the noodles according to package instructions, and assemble as per usual.
Other recipes you may like
Here's my take on Taiwanese Spicy Beef Noodle Soup. Perfect for chilly nights, when you're craving something rich, deep in beef flavour, comforting, and warm.
Let me know if you try it -- tag me on Instagram @siftandsimmer or leave me a comment/rating below!
Taiwanese Spicy Beef Noodle Soup (Instant Pot)
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
- 1.5 - 2 lb beef shank can use boneless or with bones
- 1 lb beef tendon
- 4 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 black cardamom pods
- 1 tablespoon fennel seed
- 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorn
- 2 tablespoon dou ban jiang red fermented broad bean paste (omit if you don't like spicy)
- 1 tablespoon black bean paste or black bean garlic sauce
- 3 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
- 1 teaspoon 5-spice powder
- 1 head garlic (about 12 cloves) smashed
- 1 inch ginger smashed
- 3 green onions chopped into large pieces
- 3 medium tomatoes cut in half
- 1 tablespoon rock sugar or granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 C (1 L) beef broth
- + cold water to top up as needed
- a few heads bok choy or any leafy greens
- 1.5 lb wheat noodles dried or fresh
- 2-3 green onions chopped
- pickled mustard greens optional
- a few sprigs cilantro chopped
- chili oil
Prepare the beef shank/beef tendon:
- Rinse beef shank/bones/tendon in cold water. Drain.
- Fill up a large pot of cold water. Bring to a boil.
- Add the beef shank/bones/tendon to the boiling water. Let it boil vigorously for 10 minutes.
- Drain the beef bones and rinse with cold water to remove any scum/impurities.
- Transfer the beef shank/bones/tendon to an Instant Pot.
Prepare the spices:
- In a dry frying pan over low heat, add the star anise, cinnamon stick, black cardamom pods, fennel seed and Sichuan peppercorn. Toast until fragrant.
- Transfer the toasted spices into a cheesecloth and tie it up with kitchen string.
- Place the spice pack into the Instant Pot.
Add the seasonings:
- To the Instant Pot, add dou ban jiang (red fermented broad bean paste) [if using], black bean paste, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, shaoxing wine, 5-spice powder, garlic, ginger, green onions, tomatoes, rock sugar, and sea salt.
- Add the beef stock and cover with additional water so that all the beef/tendon are submerged.
Cook the beef:
- For Instant Pot: Place the lid on, ensure the sealing valve is set, and set to MEAT setting, HIGH PRESSURE for 65 minutes. Naturally release pressure.
- For crockpot: simmer on low for 6-8 hours, until beef shank and tendon are soft and tender.
- Remove the beef shank (remove any bones) and beef tendon. Place the meat aside.
- Strain out the soup and discard the spice packet and vegetables (tomatoes, garlic, ginger, etc).
- Taste the soup for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
- Skim the fat off the soup. (You can also chill the soup in the fridge to do this easily).
Cook the veggies:
- In the meantime, cook the bok choy in a large pot of boiling water for about 1-2 minutes. Don't overcook the bok choy, since it will continue to cook slightly with the heat of the soup. Remove the bok choy and set it aside.
Cook the noodles:
- Next, using the same boiling water, cook about 1.5 lb of dry or fresh wheat noodles according to the directions on the package.
- Drain the noodles and give them a quick rinse with cold water.
Assemble the bowls:
- Portion the noodles, beef shank/beef tendon, and bok choy into bowls.
- Ladle the hot beef soup over top and garnish with green onions, cilantro, pickled mustard greens and extra chili oil (if desired).
- Enjoy the spicy beef noodle soup immediately.
The nutritional information provided should be considered as approximate and is not guaranteed. Please use your best judgment to ensure food is safely prepared and/or a good fit for your diet.