Taiwanese beef noodle soup / niu rou mian

From Shanghai to Taiwan via home-cooked dishes ! 

I seldom make broth from scratch , actually this is only the second time that I made it . Remember the tonkotso ramen last time ?! Now , now , no eye-rolling when you check the ingredients ! I know , it's a mile long but the how-to itself is easy-peasy to create this deliciously rich and satisfying Taiwanese beef noodle soup !

I've eaten beef noodles around Hongkong but haven't actually tried Taiwanese beef noodle version . As I haven't been to Taiwan , I can't compare this homemade to the authentic one . Let's just say that those beef noodles that I've eaten pales in comparison to this !

This recipe was developed by Annie Leong ( the cookbook author ) and her kitchen team while she was with Cathay Pacific Catering Services . They've journeyed to Taiwan to unlock the secret behind the famous Taiwanese beef noodle . I'm pretty sure Miss Leong and her team tried almost all shops that sells beef noodles - nice job if you can get it , for sure !

As with every good homemade stock , you need bones , here , beef spine bones are used , you can use bone marrow if you prefer , and to extract as much flavor from the bones you need to roast them first . The author didn't specify how long to roast the bones , so , to be safe , I roasted them for an hour . Unlike most stock recipes I've seen online , some aromatics in this recipe are stir-fried first and the finely crushed crystal or rock sugar is melted before boiling together with the rest of the ingredients . The spice bag which consist of 5 different spices is a must to achieve the distinctive flavor of this popular beef soup . You can use beef brisket if you can't find beef shin . I only use 500 grams beef shin and that's just enough for 3 person . The choice of noodles is very important , you need a flat white noodle for this but if you can't find it in your area , use rice sticks or udon . Oh , you need a huge stockpot for this , I used a 9 by 10 1/2-inch tall pot .

If you're still looking for the recipe reminiscent of those niu rou mian that you've slurped while you were vacationing in Taiwan , this might be it ! 

Recipe adapted from At Home with Annie , page 49

Serves 8 to 10 

Stock for the noodle :

3 tablespoons black sesame oil
3 stalks spring onion , cut into 3-inch length , lightly smashed
3 slices ginger ,lightly  smashed
5 cloves garlic , peeled
2 Thai chillies
3/4 cup crystal or rock sugar , finely ground ( 180 grams ) 
1/2 cup tomato paste 
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
1/2 cup bean paste 
2 tablespoons chilli bean paste 
1/8 teaspoon five-spice powder
2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine 
300 grams carrot , cut into chunks
300 grams turnip , cut into chunks
28 cups / 7 liters water
2 kg / 4.4 lbs beef spine bones 
1.2 kg / 2.6 lbs beef shin 

spice bag , 15 grams each of the following spices : sand ginger or san nai , fennel seeds , star anise , cinnamon and nutmeg 

Seasoning : 

2 tablespoons light soy sauce 
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tsp chicken powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt 
2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine 
2 tablespoons sugar ( optional ) 
generous dash of ground white pepper

some dried flat wide noodles 
some preserved vegetables
some boiled choi sum or any cooked green leafy vegetables of your choice 
some chopped spring onions to garnish
homemade or store-bought chilli-garlic sauce  

* Blanch the beef bones and shins in boiling water for 5 minutes , drain and rinse under running water , set aside . 

* Heat oven to 220°C , place beef bones into a roasting pan and roast until golden brown ( I roasted mine for an hour )

* Heat wok over low heat , add the sesame oil , when the oil warms up , add in the spring onions , ginger , garlic and chillies . Stir-fry over low heat until fragrant , 3 minutes or so , stir in the ground crystal sugar and cook until sugar has melted . Tun heat to medium-high so the melted sugar foams up . Pour in 10 cups of water into the wok and bring to a boil over high heat . 

* Add the bean paste , chilli bean paste and five-spice powder , stir to combine then add the carrots , turnip , tomato paste , tomato ketchup and the rice wine , stir well .

* Pour the remaining 18 cups of water into a tall stockpot then add in the mixture from the wok . Add the beef bones , the spice bag and the beef shins . 

* Bring mixture to a boil , skim off foam from the surface and continue to boil for 1/2 hour . Turn off heat lo low and simmer stock for 1 1/2 hours . 

* Take out the beef shins when they are soft , set aside for later use . Remove and discard the spice bag . Continue to simmer stock for another 11/2 to 2 hours . Turn off heat and let stock cool down . 

* Strain stock and discard the solids , return to the stockpot . Add in the seasoning and bring stock to a boil , the stock is now ready to use .     

To serve : 

* Cut beef shins into thin slices , set aside until needed .

* Cook noodles according to package direction , drain and rinse briefly ( the noodles must still be warm ) then divide into individual serving bowls .   

* Place several slices of beef shins on top of the noodles and ladle hot beef stock onto the bowl just enough to cover . Top with some cooked leafy greens , preserved vegetables and garnish with some chopped spring onions and chili-garlic sauce , if desired . Serve immediately . 


  1. Oh wow! This looks amazing! I have actually never made broth from scratch...

  2. Hello Anne, long time I didn't visit, now I am drooling over your yummy beef noodles! How come nobody took me to eat this dish when I was in Taiwan? hmmm...must make it a point to try should I have the chance to visit again!

  3. Hi Anne,
    You sure love your noodles! That is one delicious looking noodle soup! The broth looks very rich and flavourful! My hubby would love this!

  4. Anne, actually we have been eating a very similiar soup for the last few days:) I always make myslef stock for soups, bever buy any ready products-my husband would kill me for this and I agree-it's much more healthy:))))

  5. Hi Anne, Your beef noodle looks delicious! I remember I had beef noodles when I was in Taiwan but they were a little oily to my liking.
    Thanks for sharing your recipe .

  6. You are a top chef, Anne. You have me crave beef shins!

  7. Oh boy, the soup sounds awesome. Too bad I'm not a meat eater anymore. hehe.... Honestly, I love the colour of the soup.
    Have a great weekend dear.
    Blessings, Kristy

  8. looks so good. looks time consuming, but worth it. love to eat that way. Healthy. Thanx, & have a great day.


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