Instant Pot Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup
This easy, instant pot Taiwanese beef noodle soup is packed with flavorful layers of spice and umami from the cooked tomato, soy sauce, carrots, and classic aromatics. You’ll also have the most tender pieces of savory beef to enjoy with the fresh, chewy noodles.
Taiwanese beef noodle soup (niu rou mian, 牛肉麵) has instantly become one of my favorite comfort foods.
I was introduced to this dish not too long ago as a humble, homecooked dish. Since then I’ve been hooked and tried beef noodle soup at various local restaurants.
The steaming, deeply flavorful soup gets its spicy, mouth-tingling kick from the Sichuan peppercorns and is guaranteed to warm you up in this last stretch of winter.
The soup gets its strikingly deep umami from the fresh tomato, tomato paste and soy sauce, and flavor complexity from the essential aromatics, spices, and doubanjiang. I always add sichuan peppercorns for a tingly, spicy kick.
Carrots are also cooked in the soup for its earthy flavor and subtle sweetness. This tip was recommended to me by a Taiwanese friend. I have yet to see another online recipe using carrots.
While the beef shank imparts its own rich beefy flavor to the soup, the meat also gets infused with the umami-rich soup for some tender, savory bites.
Spices / Aromatics
I’ve tried different combinations of spices as recommended by beef noodle soup recipes online. It took a while for me to figure out which spices seem absolutely necessary for a more authentic taste. Ultimately, I decided to omit cumin and five spice powder.
I decided to use :
- star anise (fennel-like taste)
- cassia bark (warm, spice)
- cardamom pod (smoky)
- bay leaves (earthy)
- coriander seeds (citrusy)
- fennel seeds (sweet, anise-like taste)
- sichuan peppercorns (tingly, numbing spice)
I put the spices in a spice bag to make it easier to fish out later. You could also toast the spices before adding them to the bag. This will allow them to release more flavor while cooking.
And of course, this recipe includes our classic Asian aromatics: ginger, garlic, scallions, and onions.
Doubanjiang & Soy Sauce
I’ve tried two different brands of spicy bean paste (doubanjiang or tobanjiang, 辣豆瓣酱) for this recipe. Doubanjiang is a red, chunky paste made with fermented soybeans, broad beans, and chilies, and is used for several other dishes in Chinese cuisine. I ultimately decided to go with the one made by Lee Kum Kee, which is found in most Asian markets here in the US.
This recipe uses a combination of regular soy sauce and dark soy sauce. The dark soy sauce adds deeper flavor and color to the soup. I also add a bit of regular soy sauce at the end to taste. Keep in mind that some brands of soy sauce are saltier than others. Follow the links in this post to see the brands I use for this recipe.
Noodles in Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup
It is best to use fresh, thick wheat noodles. I use the Korean Wang udong/jjajang noodles from H-mart. I use these noodles for jjajangmyeon, jjamppong, and guksujungeol. While not the most authentic, they are chewy, thick and do a good job of soaking up flavors. (See photo below, left)
However, my Taiwanese friend also recommended using Taiwanese fresh flat noodles for this dish. I use these noodles to make easy galkuksu. (See photo below, right)
Garnish and Bok Choy
Baby bok choy are conveniently cooked with the fresh noodles in the same pot of boiling water. Their juicy crunch is great for textural contrast.
A simple garnish of finely chopped cilantro and green onions is, to me, essential. It adds a sharp, fresh taste that enhances the soup flavors.
It is also common to top this dish with pickled mustard greens for some brightness and acidity. However, I haven’t had any luck finding the right ones here in Chicago.
Tips for making Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup
- Use an instant pot. Traditionally, this dish is prepared on the stove top for up to three hours until the beef shank is good and tender. I decided to use an 8QT instant pot to cut down cook time and stove-side time.
- Try adding carrots. Their earthy and subtle sweetness adds depth of flavor.
- Cook the bok choy with the noodles. Add the noodles and baby bok choy to the boiling water at the same time. I let the baby bok choy cook for about a minute before scooping them out and allowing the noodles to cook a bit longer. This will save you time.
- Enjoy the next day. The soup flavors continue to build as it refrigerates overnight. I like to prepare the soup beforehand and reheat some the next day for a quick and satisfying meal.
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Mise en place
If you make this Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup, I would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to leave a comment and/or recipe rating at the bottom of this page. And if you have a photo of your food, be sure to tag @chrisseenplace on Instagram!
Instant Pot Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup
- 8QT instant pot
- fine mesh strainer
- 2.6 lb beef shank, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2" piece ginger, thinly sliced and smashed
- 6 cloves garlic, smashed
- 3 green onions, cut into 2" pieces
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 medium-sized carrots, peeled and cut into 3" pieces
- 2 roma tomatoes, quartered
Soup Sauce Ingredients
- cilantro, roughly chopped
- 2 green onions, finely chopped
- 3 bulbs baby bok choy, cut and cleaned
- fresh, wheat noodles
- Add all of the spice ingredients to the spice bag. (Optional: you could also toast the spices first in your instant pot and then add them to your spice bag)
- Add the beef shank pieces to a pot of boiling water. Let it come back to a boil and let it cook for about 1 minute. Strain in a colander and run under water to clean the meat of any residue or scum.
- Turn on the saute setting on your instant pot. Add the oil and allow it to heat up. Add the ginger, garlic, scallions, and onions. Stir often until the onions are translucent (cooked through).
- Add the tomatoes, carrots, meat, and soup sauce ingredients, and mix everything together.
- Add the 8 cups of water and spice bag to the pot.
- Close the lid of the instant pot and close the vent. Turn on the Meat/Stew setting and let it cook for 100 minutes.
- After the cook time has finished, use the handle end of a ladle to carefully push and open the pressure valve. (The valve will release some very hot steam.) Discard the spice bag.
- Add the fresh wheat noodles and baby bok choy to a large pot of boiling water. After the first minute, scoop out the bok choy and let the noodles continue cooking for about another 2 minutes or until al dente. Strain the noodles in a colander.
- To assemble, add some noodles, beef, and bok choy to a bowl. Ladle in some soup (I recommend pouring the soup over a fine mesh strainer into the bowl. You can more easily remove the tomato, carrots, and other soup bits to discard.). Garnish with cilantro and green onions. Serve immediately.