My Mom's Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

By • January 28, 2013 • 56 Comments



Author Notes: My mom is the best cook I know, and I'm not just saying that because she's my mom. Not only doe she make some awesomely impressive dishes for potlucks and the like, she also makes awesome everyday dishes just for us, and the best thing is, she's self-taught. One of the dishes that my brother and I always demand she makes when we're home is niu ro mien, or Taiwanese beef noodle soup. Actually, the translation is a little misleading because it's not exactly niu ro tang mien (tang means soup in Mandarin). The dish my mom makes doesn't have a whole lot of soup (although you could just add beef broth if you wanted, I suppose), it's more like a healthy amount of sauce.The Cooking of Joy

Food52 Review: With a little advance planning, this recipe easily became a new favorite. The two hour braise is worth it: the beef is tender and full of flavor, simultaneously sweet and salty. The cabbage adds a little crunch and tempers the soup's flavor so that nothing overwhelms the palate. There's a stroke of genius here: The Cooking of Joy instructs you to serve the dish with ladles of the sauce thinned with some of the pasta water, creating a broth that doesn't overpower in flavor or texture. If my mom had made this for me as a child, I would surely request it on my visits home!Brianne Du Clos

Serves 6

  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 1/2 pound beef shank, cut into 3/4" pieces
  • 1/2 cup rice wine
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons rock sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 tomato, skinned and roughly chopped
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta
  • 1 small head napa cabbage, washed and cut into 3" pieces
  1. In a large saucepan, saute the first four ingredients in the oil for 2 minutes. Add the beef and cook until just browned.
  2. Add the wine, soy sauce, water, sugar, and tomato and heat to boiling. Reduce to a simmer and cook with the lid on for 2 hours.
  3. About 15 minutes before the beef is done, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the pasta and cook while stirring occasionally for 3 minutes. Add the napa cabbage and cook for 2 more minutes. Drain off most of the water.
  4. Divide the noodles and cabbage among 6 large bowls, adding a little of the excess hot water. Add the beef on top and ladle in some of the sauce, making sure to remove the star anise.

Comments (56) Questions (0)

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7 months ago Evelyn

I made this today for my family potluck and got raves from my Taiwanese relatives. This recipe is actually pretty easy and the result is very flavorful.

Stringio

7 months ago Pam Chapman

This soup sounds wonderful! I am on a strict diet and would like to know the calorie and nutritional information on the soup. Thanks, PC

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7 months ago Travler2130

My husband also has diabetes. I sub agave syrup for sugar and use half the amount called for.

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7 months ago rebecca

My husband has type 2 diabetes, what do suggest instead of the sugar?

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8 months ago ECMotherwell

Another rave for this recipe -- it's DELICIOUS! Due a last-moment choice to make this and to spotty grocery offerings, I had to make a few subs: beef ribs for shank (excellent!) and ground anise seed plus a pinch of all-spice for star anise, which was not bad! Looking forward to trying it with star anise...

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10 months ago Trena

I just made this soup for the first time tonight and I cannot believe that I've made something so delicious. Just. Make. This. Soup. Thank you for sharing your mom's delicious recipe!

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10 months ago The Cooking of Joy

You're welcome! I'm so glad everyone likes it!

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about 1 year ago kgindermaur

This recipe is excellent. The brown sugar, rice wine, star anise, and ginger bring out some wonderful flavors in the normally tough beef shank. Savory and delicious!

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about 1 year ago Yazoolulu

This is a wonderful recipe. I made it the other night and used shredded green and purple cabbage because I didn't have napa. Squeezed fresh lime juice in at the end and garnished with fresh mint and basil. It was a big hit.

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over 1 year ago KarenNJ

I made it last night and it was one of the best dishes I've ever made! A definite keeper. Thanks so much for sharing!

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over 1 year ago Racr Ma

I eat gluten free- used mai fun noodles instead....

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over 1 year ago Travler2130

This was fantastic! I followed the recipe exact. It will be a go too recipe.

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over 1 year ago KarenNJ

I just made a batch of homemade beef broth. Do you think this would be a good alternate to the water, or do you think the flavor would be too strong? I can't wait to try this!

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over 1 year ago The Cooking of Joy

I think it would be great! But check the saltiness level of the broth before using. If it's pretty salty, I'd definitely scale back on the soy sauce.

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over 1 year ago tillie

I made this as indicated with a light soy sauce and beef with alittle fat on it. It was divine yesterday and only improved today.I used rice sticks because I love 'em. They soaked up the flavor overnight in the broth like a sponge.Added a bit of fresh mint,coriander and it is an infallable recipe for deep fulfillment.Thank you so much for sharing it with the community!

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over 1 year ago Chef Tracy D

I made this for dinner last night. I couldn't find beef shanks at my grocery store so I used some beef stew meat instead. It was DELICIOUS!!!! This is definitely a keeper!

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over 1 year ago Alice Choi

OMG, love this!

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over 1 year ago More please

Good but way too salty. Perhaps low sodium suy sauce?

Stringio

over 1 year ago Treebird

I dont eat wheat. What noodle would be a good sub? Rice noodles an in Vietnamese pho?

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over 1 year ago The Cooking of Joy

Sure! Since they're already made to be used in a noodle soup, I think pho noodles would be a great non-wheat substitute!

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over 1 year ago helchose

I would think rice sticks would be fine.

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over 1 year ago Lil'BC

my mom's is very similar but we also use 1 small can of tomato sauce, and daikon (chopped into large chunks) instead of napa cabbage. so glad to see you are sharing the love of taiwanese niu rou mien :)

Stringio

over 1 year ago Heather Hal

I wonder if using beef cheek would work with this, what do you think? Perhaps the gelatinous aspect of the meat would work well with the spices.

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over 1 year ago The Cooking of Joy

I've never cooked beef cheek before, but a quick google shows that it's usually braised, so I think it would work just fine!

Stringio

over 1 year ago Heather Hal

Thank you! This will be my Sunday supper!

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over 1 year ago TarragonTime

Looking forward to trying it this weekend, but can you tell me what BRAND of Soy Sauce you use? I think it can make or break this one.....Thanks!

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over 1 year ago The Cooking of Joy

I like using Wanjashan because that's what my mom uses.

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over 1 year ago TarragonTime

Great - will track it down.... but another quick question....Wan Ja Shan makes several different soys "Regular", "Less Sodium", "Premium Aged", "Aged", "Tamari Soy", and "Sashimi Soy". Which does your Mom use? Thanks!!!!

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over 1 year ago The Cooking of Joy

My mom uses regular.

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over 1 year ago young vaara

This recipe looks great! Would you have any advice as to what type of soy sauce is authentic for this dish?

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over 1 year ago The Cooking of Joy

I like using Wanjashan because that's what my mom uses.

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over 1 year ago young vaara

Thanks, but I mean type (probably regular light soy sauce?)and not brand, because I might not have exactly the same brands available over here in Europe.

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over 1 year ago The Cooking of Joy

I've used regular and aged, and both worked fine.

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over 1 year ago Rob Powell

Any advice on keeping leftovers? Should the noodles and cabbage be kept separate? I'm single and I love being able to cook a delicious soup and eat it for days.

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over 1 year ago The Cooking of Joy

I would just cook enough noodles for however much you want to eat for that meal. The stew (with the cabbage) can be kept in the fridge for a few days. Then just cook more noodles each time you want to eat more. Heat up a portion of the stew in the microwave while you're cooking the noodles and then rinse the noodles and combine.

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over 1 year ago cobe

Rob - you can definitely cook extra noodles to save time. They will also keep covered in the fridge for a few days. Get what you need into a bowl, cover and reheat in the microwave at 80% for 1-1.5 min. Hot broth over them and you're good to go. I do that when I make pho.

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over 1 year ago citygirl

Do you have a good recipe for Ants Climbing on Trees, or other great noodle dishes? Hope so.

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over 1 year ago The Cooking of Joy

I've never made Ants Climbing Trees before, but here's some other good noodles dishes I've made (including jjajungmyeon, ramen, udon, and Hong Kong style pan-fried noodles): http://the-cooking-of-joy...

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over 1 year ago helchose

I make a stew of canned tomatoes, garlic, star anise and oxtails. It's delicious. I like this variation on that.

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over 1 year ago Monadog

Can I make this soup using red and yellow peppers instead of cabbage and minced beef instead of shanks? Would really appreciate your advice.

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over 1 year ago The Cooking of Joy

Hmm, you could probably try it but it would definitely not be considered Taiwanese beef noodle soup then. And if you're using minced beef (is that the same as ground beef?) you probably won't need to cook the beef for 2 hours. Actually, you're probably better off just making chili if you really want to make a stew with minced beef and peppers.

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over 1 year ago Monadog

I was thinking about using ground beef because I have some lying around in the fridge. I live in France where it is snowing a lot at the moment so I just thought that I could make your wonderful noodle soup recipe to beat the cold but adapted to what I already have in the fridge becuase the snow is making it difficult to go out shopping! I always keep a bunch of different types of noodle packets in the house though for emergencies and because I love noodles and noodle soups:)

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over 1 year ago The Cooking of Joy

Maybe try making Cincinnati Chili? It's not a noodle soup per se, but you do eat it with noodles! http://the-cooking-of-joy...

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over 1 year ago Monadog

Thank you very much for the advice. I just saw your chili recipe and it sounds really delicious - I will think about it!

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over 1 year ago Patricia Sheng

I am going to test this recipe out with my parents in law as they are Taiwanese. Will let you know how it went. Excited!

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over 1 year ago The Cooking of Joy

Good luck!

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over 1 year ago Diana Pappas

Just made this for dinner and it was a big success all around the table. I browned the shank bones and let them braise with the meat, scooping out and incorporating the bone marrow at the end - yum.

Stringio

over 1 year ago Justin Wong

Damn this is even better than the beef noodle soup at my local taiwanese noodle shop, thanks!

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over 1 year ago Helana Brigman

This looks so appetizing! I think it's a perfect recipe who wants to make a good soup that isn't too complicated.

Stringio

over 1 year ago Bob Phillips

That is a lot of soy sauce!!! Is this correct?

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over 1 year ago The Cooking of Joy

Yup, it is! Feel free to use less if you like, but the meat won't be as flavorful.

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over 1 year ago Diana Pappas

What a beautiful bowl of food and a lovely, simple recipe. I must try it!

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over 1 year ago gina corlett

I love this because it is authentic yet I don't need to run out and get a ton of ingredients. I had absolutely everything I needed in my cabinets!

Linda_cooking

over 1 year ago Beautiful, Memorable Food

Congrats! I'm so glad to see Taiwanese beef noodle soup represented here! (I would have entered mine/my mom's if I hadn't missed this contest. It's slightly different; you can check it out on my blog or on Salon if you're interested.) If you haven't seen it yet, you should watch Anthony Bourdain eating beef noodle soup in The Layover Taipei-- but it's the clear broth variety, which I don't consider the classic. I use what are sold as "Chinese style dried noodles" in the big boxes in Asian markets, but I remember when I grew up, far away from Asian markets, my mom would sometimes use spaghetti. You know, like Marco Polo.

Junechamp

over 1 year ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I really want to eat this soup, but I'm thinking I'd prefer a rice noodle in it. What do you think?

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over 1 year ago The Cooking of Joy

I don't see why that wouldn't work! Angel hair pasta is just what my mom usually uses since it's easier to find in the grocery stores. Please let me know how it works out!