Mika’s Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup (Niu Rou Mian)

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(Original Post Date:  October 2, 2010)

According to my Taiwanese/Chinese husband, there are two versions of this famous beef soup in Taiwan: a slightly sweet mild version, and a really spicy/more savory version.  After trying out a bunch of different recipes for a “David approved” beef noodle soup, I finally perfected the recipe into this version right here – it’s slightly sweet, but also a little bit spicy.

My favorite part of this soup is the simmered egg, another Taiwanese specialty.  I love eating the simmered eggs over rice… or with a fresh mantou (steamed bread).  If you aren’t a fan of simmered egg, you could omit that step, and just poach eggs in the final broth right before serving.

Update 4/29/2013:  To make this more spicy (like Hong Shau Niu Rou Mian), add 1-2 tsp. Korean Chili Paste (hot pepper paste, a.k.a. Gochujang).   It adds the flavor and red color that is more common with the spicy version.

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup:

  • 7 c. water
  • 1/2 lb. beef tri-tip or short rib
  • 1 c. Michiu (chinese cooking rice wine)
  • 1/2 c. soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • stems of a cilantro bunch
  • 2-3″ ginger, peeled & sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. anise seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3-4 whole star anise
  • 1 tsp. Szechuan peppercorns
  • 3-4 Japanese red pepper pods
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 package Chinese thin noodles
  • 1/2 lb. baby bok choy
  • 2-3 stalks green onion, sliced
  • cilantro leaves

1.  Wash the cilantro, and chop the stems off of from the leafy tops.  Set aside the leafy cilantro tops.  Peel and smash the garlic cloves.  Peel and slice a 2-3 inch finger of ginger.  Peel and quarter an onion.  Add the water, cooking wine, soy sauce, brown sugar, cilantro stems, ginger, garlic, and onion to a large stock pot over medium heat.

2.  Measure out the fennel, anise, whole star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, Japanese pepper pods (torn in half), and cinnamon stick (broken into pieces).  Add the spices to the stock pot.

3.  Slice the beef into 1 inch cubes.  Add to the stock pot.

4.  Put the eggs into the stock pot and bring to a gentle simmer.  After 10 minutes, remove the eggs, and peel.  Add the peeled boiled eggs back into the simmering soup.

5.  Cover the soup with a lid, slightly askew to allow steam to escape, and simmer on medium-low heat for 2-3 hours.

6.  With a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the boiled eggs and beef into a bowl and set aside.

7.  Set a strainer over a large bowl, and strain the broth into the bowl, leaving all the solids behind.

8.  Cook the noodles according to the package directions, drain, and set aside.

9.  Wash the baby bok choy, and halve any large pieces.

10.  Put the strained broth back into the stock pot, and taste.  The flavor will be a little strong, so add 2-4 cups of chicken broth or water to taste.  Bring the soup back to a simmer.  Add the bok choy and simmer for 2 minutes until cooked.

11.  Assemble the soup as follows:  Put a large handful of drained noodles into the bottom of the soup bowl.  Add a few pieces of beef, one of the eggs sliced in half, and a few pieces of bok choy.  Add hot broth, and top with sliced green onions and a few reserved sprigs of cilantro.

Comments

  1. louise says:

    I made this today and it turned out good! I did not have the Michiu brand so I used mirin. over all it tasted good. I would like to see if I can find that same brand name you used.

    Thanks!

  2. Mika Mika says:

    Mirin is a little sweet compared to Michiu. You could also try Xiao Xing rice wine if you can’t find Michiu (I can usually find these at the 99 Ranch Chinese Market.) But in a pinch, Mirin is fine – or you could even try a dry sherry (just reduce the sugar a little bit to compensate for the added sweetness).

    I’ve also experimented making this soup a little spicier by adding a teaspoon or so of Korean Chili Paste (comes in a small red tub).

    I’m glad the recipe worked out for you! :)

  3. Ann says:

    I made this and it tasted just like the restaurants. Only problem was my beef (used short ribs) turned out kinda tough. Don’t know what went wrong… Mika, do you think I could cook this dish in a slow cooker next time so that I don’t risk using too much heat and over cooking the beef?

    • Mika Mika says:

      Hi Ann,
      What kind of short rib did you use? I use the thick kind with marbling… the kind that is often braised and served in large chunks. The Korean kind that is sliced thin probably won’t work. The more marbling (fat) in the meat, the less tough it will be. You also have to make sure that you cook the beef long enough that it breaks down and starts to kind of separate on it’s own (kind of like brisket) and starts to fall apart. I prefer these cuts of meat because I want to eat “meat” in my soup… not pieces of fat, collagen, and gristle… but I think traditionally other cuts of meat that have bones/more collagen and connective tissue (like beef shank) are used and might be softer after long cooking.

  4. Lyn says:

    Can you tell me the type of beef to buy at the grocerry store? I’m afraid to buy beef because they are usually tough. Also where can I find fennel and what is Japanese peppers?

    • Mika Mika says:

      What type of beef you buy is up to you. I notice in Taiwan, they normally use fatty cuts of beef that are not really considered the best for regular cooking applications (like beef shanks). I am very picky about meat, and I don’t like a lot of fat, connective tissue, and random gristle in my food… so I used meatier cuts. Although it is pricier, I prefer to use beef tri-tip or short rib. You could probably also use brisket – whatever cut of meat that has some marbling to it (you definitely need to have some fat so that the meat doesn’t become dry and tasteless with the long cooking) that is well suited for braising or stewing. Don’t use anything too lean, or any type of “steak”.

      P.S. Fennel seeds are usually found in the spice section of your grocery store. Japanese chili pepper pods are just a type of spicy dried chilies… I used them because I have them in my pantry. You can substitute with any dried chili pepper pods that you have – if very spicy, use less.

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