Origin: Taiwan, Asian
Method: Smoker, StovetopJump to Recipe
What are Taiwanese Beef Noodles?
Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup is the national dish Taiwan and the island's most famous culinary dish. As it turns out that trying to track down "the best traditional method" for preparing the dish is not an easy task. When I asked my friends who reside in Taiwan this very question I got a laugh in response. As it turns out asking for the best Beef Noodle Soup recipe in Taiwan, is akin to asking an American for the best traditional recipe for a bowl of chili. Every household seems to have their own recipe, with their own twist, and they all believe that theirs is the best on the island. In fact, much like chili-cookoffs in America, Taipei hosts an annual Beef Noodle Festival each year to declare the best beef noodles on the island.
As such, I reset my goal and asked them what they most enjoyed about some of the beef noodles they have enjoyed, and what ingredients are almost always present (spoiler alert: its beef and noodles). Basically, you begin with a fragrant broth made from braised beef, but what you choose to season your broth with is largely up to you. They did divulge that some of their favorites reminded them of the flavors experienced from eating spicy Chinese hot pot. As a huge fan of hot pot, I was not one to disagree. I do step outside the traditional methods a bit using smoked beef short rib or brisket instead of the traditional braised beef.
What meat is used for Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup?
Traditionally the beef noodle soup is made with slow braised beef shank or chuck roast, though other cuts are frequently used as well. The inclusion of beef tendon is also common. A 2-3 pound "dino-rib" or beef short rib has become our go to for this smoked version of the dish. This started as a recipe to use left over beef short ribs or beef brisket, but we enjoy it so much that we now smoke a rib or two, just to make this dish. Leftover smoked brisket or burnt ends also work wonderfully for the smoked beef noodle soup.
Red braised beef noodle soup vs clear beef noodle soup
Early in the origins of beef noodle soup in Taiwan there were 2 primary styles of the soup: Sichuan, red braised and North Chinese style with its clear broth. Red braised beef noodle soup tends to be spicier with inclusion of Sichuan peppercorns. It often gets its color from red bean paste. Clear broth soup focuses more on the beef. The clear broth is used bring out the flavor of the beef. Over time other styles have emerged like a Cantonese style which is sweeter and a Taiwanese style which seems in incorporate the anything goes style of making the soup. Our Beef Noodle Soup with Smoked Beef tends to fall in the Taiwanese style with a heavy Sichuan influence.
For more great soup, stew and chowder recipes, be sure to give some of these International favorites a try:
- Fire Roasted Tomato Soup
- Greenlandic Inspired Pollock Soup
- Jamaican Style Cast Iron Oxtail Stew
- Ground Nut (Peanut) Stew
- Texas Red Chili with Smoked Chuck Roast
- Smoked Salmon Chowder
Cooking the Taiwanese Beef Noodles
Prepare the ingredients
Beyond the use of smoked meat I tried to keep things as authentic as possible. What resulted is in my opinion, one of the best Asian-BBQ fusion dishes out there.
While the ingredient list for beef noodle soup can seem intimidating, most ingredients require little prep work. Most of the time to make this dish is hands off. Some of the less common ingredients can be found in most Asian markets or have simple substitutions.
Gather your spices and seasonings and quarter your onions and tomato. Garlic can be minced or sliced. Fresh ginger or pre-sliced sushi ginger can be used to flavor the broth.
We typically use smoked brisket or beef short ribs for this recipe, and smoke the meat ahead of time. We often prepare this the day before or use leftover smoked brisket for the recipe, and refrigerate until it is needed for the recipe.
Making the soup base
The first step in making the best beef noodle soup is to make your broth or soup base. Select a hearty beef bone broth or stock, or use a homemade broth. We really enjoy the bone broths from Kettle and Fire and Epic, but any high quality beef broth will work.
To make the beef noodle broth, heat about 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Add the quartered onions and sliced garlic to the Dutch oven and cook for about 2 minutes.
Next, add in the quartered tomato and cook for 1 minute. Add in the water, beef broth, spices and seasonings, ginger, cooking wine, soy sauce, sugar, bay leaves, 2 of the sliced green onions, and chilis. Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. If you are not using smoked beef and want to start with uncooked beef short ribs or brisket, then cube the meat and add it to the pot at this time.
Cover the Dutch oven and simmer the beef noodle broth for 2 hours, stirring about every hour.
Finishing the Taiwanese Beef Noodles
Strain all of the solids from the broth and return the broth to the Dutch oven. Cut the smoked beef into bite sized chunks and add to the broth. Simmer for 1-2 more hours, or until the meat is tender. If you used unsmoked beef, return the beef to the Dutch oven with the broth.
About the last 15 minutes of cooking, it is time to cook your additional ingredients for your Taiwanese beef noodle soup. Wheat noodles, and bok chuy are our favorite ingredients along with some the red chilis. Chinese mustard greens are another common ingredients.
Prepare the noodles
Cook the noodles per instructions. We find it best to cook the noodles separately to prevent the starch in the noodles from thickening the broth too much.
What are the best noodles for Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup?
Traditionally wheat noodles are used in Taiwanese beef noodle soup. Lo mein or udon noodles work well. Or favorite noodles, however, are Taiwanese long life noodles. These noodles are said to bring good luck, and should be cooked and eaten whole. You don't want to risk cutting your life short by cutting the noodles!
Prepare the greens
Prepare your greens for the beef noodle soup with smoked beef by boiling for about 5 minutes. The greens can also be added to the broth during the last 10-15 minutes of cooking if desired.
Serving the Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup with Smoked Beef
Pour the beef noodle broth with some smoked meat into a bowl. Add the cooked greens and noodles to a bowl, and if desired add some sliced green onions. Eat while warm.
If you are looking for more Taiwanese inspired dishes, be sure to check out our recipe for Taiwanese Night Market Spicy Fried Chicken. For more great brisket or beef short rib recipes be sure to check out some of our favorites:
- BBQ Poutine With Smoked Brisket
- Brisket Quesabirria Tacos
- Brisket Burger Sliders with Horseradish Aioli
- Beef Short Rib Burnt Ends
- Beef Short Rib Tomahawk
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Taiwanese Beef Noodles with Smoked Beef
- Dutch oven or stock pot
- 4 cups Water
- 4 cups Flavored beef broth or bone broth
- 1.5 Onions quartered
- 4 Whole Star Anise
- 1 Tablespoon Sichuan Peppercorns
- 4 Garlic Cloves Sliced
- 1 teaspoon Rock sugar substitute turbinado sugar
- 4 Red Chilies Birds eye or Thai chiles
- ¼ cup Light Soy Sauce
- ¼ cup Rice Wine or Chinese Cooking Wine substitute dry sherry
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1 Tomato Quartered
- 8 slices Ginger Fresh or sushi style pickled
- 3 Green onions Divided, sliced on the bias
- 4 Baby bok choy halved
- Wheat noodles such as Taiwanese long life noodles
- Heat about 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Add the quartered onions and sliced garlic to the Dutch oven and cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add in the quartered tomato and cook for 1 minute.
- Add in the water, beef broth, spices and seasonings, ginger, cooking wine, soy sauce, sugar, bay leaves, 2 of the sliced green onions, and chilis. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
- Cover the Dutch oven and simmer for 2 hours, stirring about every hour.
- Strain all of the solids from the broth and return the broth to the Dutch oven.
- Add in the smoked beef and simmer for 1-2 more hours, or until the meat is tender.
- Cook noodles per instructions. Boil bok choy for about 5 minutes. Serve soup with bok choy and noodles.