My Mom's Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

January 28, 2013
10 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 2 hours
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

My mom is the best cook I know, and I'm not just saying that because she's my mom. Not only does 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 rou mian, or Taiwanese beef noodle soup. Actually, the translation is a little misleading because it's not exactly niu rou tang mian (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. —Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy

Test Kitchen Notes

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! —duclosbe1

What You'll Need
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds beef shank, cut into 3/4" pieces
  • 1/2 cup rice wine
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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87 Reviews

Jessamin October 3, 2021
I've been looking forward to making this all week and today was the day, and it was everything I hoped for. Super simple, made my house smell amazing, my husband ate three bowls in one sitting. I will be making this forever.
Joy H. October 3, 2021
Yay, glad you liked it!
Mae July 25, 2021
I made this tonight using broccoli instead of beef. That sauce is delicious! My only criticism is there was waaaaay more noodles than broccoli/tomatoes/sauce! Next time I would double those ingredients and only use 8 oz noodles.
Robert Y. January 12, 2021
Love it, Love to, Love it!!! I have made this three times now and it turns out fabulous every time. I get a 16" whole beef shank from my favorite farmers market beef supplier....local farm....and freeze it. Then I use a dedicated hack saw to cut it into thirds while frozen (easier to cut), let thaw, and then let that simmer for awhile with the spices. Want to make sure the marrow cooks out, and the beef is fork tender. Then follow directions....I once used thicker Pho type noodles and that was chewy and yummy. Great recipe.
Jessamin October 3, 2021
This comment made me go look at your collections, as you are obviously someone who knows what they're doing!
Beth M. November 19, 2020
I bought beef shanks by mistake and could only find warnings on the internet how difficult it was to make tasty and what a bad cut of meat it was. Then I found Joy's recipe and made this very easy and delicious soup tonight on a very cold November evening when it was the PERFECT food. Now I will be buying beef shanks on purpose. What an excellent and easy to make meal!!
Tam October 7, 2019
This is a quick soup to put together and then let it simmer. I've never had Taiwanese noodle soup but I appreciate a hearty bowl of noodle soup and this is it. I would definitely do this one again. I garnished with cilantro, green onion, white onion slices and slices of jalapeno. With wedges of fresh limes to squeeze on top. So good.
Monica B. December 4, 2018
The whole family, even the kids love this soup.
Nancy February 17, 2018
OMG! This is AMAZING! I just started simmering the broth and it tastes fabulous! I can’t have soy or gluten so I substituted Coconut Aminos for the Soy Sauce- the aminos are slightly thicker but taste just like soy sauce. Thank you for sharing this recipe- it’s a definite keeper and very easy to make. 💕💕
Joy H. February 21, 2018
You're welcome! I'm glad this works for vegetarians as well!
Frank E. July 8, 2017
Whenever I've had beef noodle soup in Taiwan, it's had some kind of picked mustard green garnish. Does this recipe need some kind acidic counterpoint like that, or does it work as is?

(looking forward to trying it regardless)
Joy H. July 9, 2017
I don't think it does, but this is the way I grew up eating it. Feel free to add some if you prefer it that way. =)
Daniel G. January 4, 2020
Black vinegar is a common tabletop condiment in China if you want a touch of acid. If you poke around at other recipe blogs for Taiwanese noodle soup some folks recommend pickled/preserved mustard greens. In the past I've tried 芽菜 but found it to be overwhelmingly salty.
mooksma April 29, 2016
Can you use rice wine vinegar instead of rice wine?
Joy H. April 29, 2016
No, the rice wine helps tenderize the meat while rice wine vinegar would add too strong of a flavor. You can try substituting sake, a mild cooking wine, or just water.
Cindy L. October 5, 2015
Thanks so much for this recipe! My husband loves beef noodle and he's always asking to eat it at his favorite restaurant. I decided to try making it at home and your recipe was so easy to make and so tasty! He loves thick, chewy noodles, so that's the only thing I changed.
Joy H. October 6, 2015
Yay, I'm glad you guys liked it! Great Instagram, too!
karencooks May 10, 2015
This recipe is one of our favorites!!! Delicious soup!!!
tina February 15, 2015
I love this recipe! It's fantastic just as you wrote it, but since I had time I cut the beef in larger chunks and braised it for 3 hrs (with +1/2 cup of water). I added 1/2 tsp of rice vinegar to give it a little brightness. I also strained the soup before serving just for presentation purposes. Thank you! I can't wait to make this for my mom one day (she's Taiwanese :) !)
Joy H. February 15, 2015
You're welcome! I hope your mom likes it, too. Did you happen to post any pictures of your finished product? I'd love to see them. =)
tina August 24, 2016
Hi! It's a bit late, but here's a good photo of mine from last night :) I've been making it for over a year now! (can't find baby napa cabbages here in London, so I swapped to baby bok choi and hubby is GF, so rice noodles) Looove your recipe!!
Jamie W. February 14, 2015
WOW!! What a great tasting soup. I may have eaten FOUR servings! WHOOPSIES!
Joy H. February 14, 2015
Haha, glad you liked it!
Jamie W. February 13, 2015
The beef is braising and I cannot wait to finish this dish.
J H. January 12, 2015
This is a great recipe. Thanks for sharing! I've made it twice and everyone loves it!
Joy H. January 12, 2015
You're welcome! I'm glad everyone loved it!
emcsull December 8, 2014
what a terrific soup, Joy, my thanks to you and your mother. Lovely and pungent. My chinese cabbage did not stay in attractive little bundles like in the picture, but just fell apart. It tasted good anyhow !
Joy H. December 8, 2014
You're welcome! I have a feeling the cabbage bundles in James' picture were artfully arranged after the soup was plated ;) If you look at my picture it's a lot messier, but still very yummy!
cream C. December 1, 2014
I made this with savoy cabbage and mung bean noodles--the results were a sheer delight. It was also GREAT reheated for lunch the next day. I recommend a little Sriracha or red pepper flakes to spice things up!
Tanya November 16, 2014
I've made this a couple of times now and absolutely love it. I didn't think it would be so easy to make such a satisfying noodle soup at home with such few ingredients and steps. Blogging about this to spread the love. Thanks!
Joy H. November 16, 2014
Yay, you're welcome! I'm glad you liked it! Looking forward to seeing your blog post about it.
Jenny H. September 26, 2014
This was so delicious! We didn't have rice wine, used sherry and little sugar instead. Would make this again in a heartbeat!
Evelyn December 25, 2013
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.