Beef Noodle Soup, Taiwanese

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Fragrant star anise and Sichuan peppercorns flavor this meaty broth, along with toban djan, a spicy, fermented chili-bean paste. It's sold in most Asian markets, but if you can't find it, substitute with 2 tablespoons white miso mixed with 4 teaspoons Asian chili-garlic sauce and 2 teaspoons soy sauce The soup is lightly spicy; you can add more toban djan or some ground Sichuan pepper at the table for more heat. Chinese wheat noodles of any thickness worked well, as did Japanese udon and long, thin pastas such as spaghetti.


1 tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
4-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, cut into 6 to 8 pieces and smashed
6 scallions, whites roughly chopped, greens thinly sliced, reserved separately
3 star anise pods
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
3 tablespoons chili bean sauce (toban djan, see note above)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup sake
quarts water
2 to 2½ pounds bone-in beef shanks (about 1 inch thick), trimmed
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 pound baby bok choy, trimmed and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
8 ounces dried wheat noodles


  1. In a large Dutch oven over medium, combine the oil, garlic, ginger and the white scallion parts. Cook, stirring, until sizzling, about 3 minutes. Stir in the star anise and peppercorns, then cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the chili-bean sauce, tomato paste and brown sugar, then pour in the soy sauce, rice wine and water. Bring to a boil over high.
  2. Add the beef shanks and return to a simmer. Cover, reduce to low and cook, adjusting as needed to maintain a gentle simmer, until the beef is tender and beginning to fall apart, about 2 hours.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the beef shanks to a bowl and set aside. Strain the liquids, discarding the solids, into a bowl. Reserve the pot. Skim off and discard the fat from the surface of the liquid, then return to the pot. When cool enough to handle, shred the meat into bite-size pieces, discarding the bones, fat and gristle. Add the meat to the pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high, then reduce to low and cover to keep warm.
  4. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add the salt and bok choy and cook until the stems are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bok choy to a large plate and set aside. Add the noodles to the water and cook until tender. Drain, rinse under lukewarm water, then drain again. Divide the noodles and bok choy among serving bowls then ladle the soup over them, topping with scallion greens.

Tip: Don’t forget to skim the fat off the strained cooking liquid. This prevents the soup from tasting greasy. And don't rinse the drained noodles under cold water. Lukewarm water will keep them from cooling down completely.


6 servings


Milk Street Television, Home Cooking In Taiwan, Season 2, Episode 1, Sept 8, 2018