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Chinese Beef Noodle Soup

It took hours to make but this recipe for Chinese Beef Noodle Soup, Niu Rou Mian, was well worth it. Some Chinese broths are too thin in my mind. This broth is both sweet and spicy and for the lucky few you'll find the hidden bone marrow which slipped out of the bones while cooking.

Here's something else I learned while working on this recipe; despite their name, Sichuan peppercorns aren't related to regular peppercorns. The mildly hot dried berries, which resemble split peppercorns, come from the prickly ash tree.

Time
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Servings
Yield: 8 servings
Serving size: 1 bowl

Ingredients

  • 5 Lbs beef shank
  • 1/4 Cup vegetable oil
  • 1 2 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, cut into 1/3-inch-thick rounds, each smashed with flat side of knife
  • 3 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Cups chopped onions
  • 3 Tbs chili bean paste (Sichuan hot bean paste; dou ban jiang)
  • 3 whole green onions, trimmed, plus 2 cups chopped green onions (for garnish)
  • 3/4 Cup (or more) soy sauce (do not use low-sodium)
  • 2 Tbs (or more) salt
  • 6 whole star anise
  • 1 1-inch cube Chinese yellow rock sugar (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/2 Tbs Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 Tbs Freshly ground white pepper or black pepper
  • 1 lb eggless Chinese wheat noodles
  • 3 baby bok choy, each halved lengthwise, bottom 1 1/2 inches trimmed, rinsed (optional garnish)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro (for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Bring large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add beef; return water to boil. Reduce heat. Simmer until beef is brown on outside, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes; drain. Rinse beef under cold water until cool; cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes. Wipe out pot.
  2. Heat 1/4 cup oil in same pot over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic. Sauté 1 minute. 
  3. Add chopped onions; sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. 
  4. Add chili bean paste; stir 30 seconds. Add 16 cups water, whole green onions, 1/2 cup soy sauce, salt, pepper, star anise, and rock sugar. 
  5. Mix in beef. Tie peppercorns in cheesecloth; add to pot. Bring soup to boil. 
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low. Gently simmer uncovered 2 hours, adjusting heat to avoid boiling.
  7. After one hour adjust seasoning, adding more soy sauce by tablespoonfuls and more salt, if desired. Season with pepper.
  8. Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions. Drain well.
  9. Divide noodles among large soup bowls. Add some bok choy to each, if desired. Ladle soup and meat over. Garnish with chopped green onions and cilantro. Serve with Pickled Mustard Greens.
Goes well with Pickled Mustard Greens