Beef Noodle Soup: from Sichuan, to Taiwan, and back


Beef noodle soup! In this video we’ll show you the Sichuan style, touch on the Taiwan style, and talk a bit about how that soup ended up circling back to the mainland. 0:00 – Introduction 0:24 – How Beef Noodle Soup got to Taiwan 1:28 – Why don’t we cover Taiwan food? 2:02 – Taiwan Noodle Soup Journeys Back to the Mainland 3:02 – How to Make Sichuan-style Red Braised Beef 6:35 – Introduction to the Sichuan Noodle shop style 7:07 – Sichuan-style Component 1, Pork Stock 8: 23 – Sichuan-style Component 2, Toasted Chili Oil 10:19 – Sichuan-style Component 3, Stewed Peas 11:47 – Sichuan-style Component 4, Fresh Alkaline Noodles 13:19 – Assembling the Sichuan Noodle shop Style 14:12 – The Instant Noodle Version 16:23 – The use of stock? VIDEOS WE ENJOYED RE THE TAIWAN STYLE Cate Food Travel had a fantastic video of a beef noodle soup shop in Taiwan: Taiwan Duck (really cute channel) had a nice video if you were looking for more of a recipe video: SICHUAN RED BRAISED BEEF * Water, ~2L * Aromatics for the poaching liquid: ginger (姜), ~2 inches, smashed; liaojiu aka Shaoxing wine (料酒/绍酒), ~1 tbsp; scallions, ~3, tied in a knot * Beef brisket (牛腩), 700g * Red Oil Chili Bean Paste, Pixian Doubanjiang (红油郫县豆瓣酱), 4 tbsp * Oil to fry the bean paste, 6 tbsp * Seasoning for the braise: soy sauce (生抽), 2 tbsp; dark soy sauce (老抽), 1 tsp; salt, 1 tsp * Spices for the braise: Sichuan peppercorns (花椒), 1/2 tbsp; star anise (八角), 2; cloves (amp), 6; dried sand ginger (沙姜), 8 psc; white cardamom (白蔻), 4; Tsaoko aka Chinese black cardamom (草果), 1 Process at 3:30. TL;DW: poach the beef for 5 minutes, then let it cool. Slice, then fry til browned. Fry the minced chili bean paste on low to stain the oil, and quickly fry the beef with it. Add the beef and red oil back to the pot together with the seasoning and spices. Simmer for 90 minutes. NOODLE SHOP STYLE COMPONENT #1: PORK BONE STOCK * Pork bones (猪骨), 350g (with some meat still attached) * Aromatics for the stock: ginger (姜), ~1 inches, smashed; liaojiu aka Shaoxing wine (料酒/绍酒), ~1 tbsp; scallions, ~1, tied in a knot Process at 7:16. TL;DW: Blanch the pork bones in water together with a slug of Shaoxing. Remove, then to a new pot of ~2.5L of water add the blanched pork together with the aromatics for the stock. Simmer covered for three hours. NOODLE SHOP STYLE COMPONENT #2: TOASTED CHILI OIL * Dried chilis, 50g (we used Sichuan erjingtiao, 二荆条) * Oil, 150g (or 3/4 of a cup). We used Caiziyou (Chinese rapeseed oil), but you can also use Indian mustard seed oil or peanut oil * Aromatics for the oil: Ginger, ~1 inch, smashed; Onion (洋葱), ~1/4 of an onion, sliced ​​* Spices for the oil (optional but recommended): Cinnamon (桂皮), ½ stick; Star Anise (八角), 1; Fennel Seed (小茴香), ¼ tsp Process at 8:36. TL;DW: Slice, then toast the chilis until brittle. Shake over a strainer to get out some of the excess seeds, then pound into a coarse powder. Heat your oil up to smoke point, let it cool down a bit, then fry the aromatics until golden brown. Add the spices, fry for a minute, then strain. Heat the oil til it bubbles around some chopsticks (~150C), then add in the chili flakes and shut off the heat. NOODLE SHOP STYLE COMPONENT #3: STEWED PEAS * Yellow split peas (黄豌豆), preferably whole, 100g * Baking soda (小苏打), 1/4 tsp – if using whole split peas Process at 10:45 NOODLE SHOP STYLE COMPONENT # 4: FRESH ALKALINE NOODLES * AP Flour (中筋面粉), 200g * Salt, 1/2 tsp * Sodium carbonate (碱面) -or- kansui (枧水), 1/2 tsp * Water, 90g Process at 11:56 . NOODLE SHOP STYLE: ASSEMBLY * Fresh noodles, 150g (or ~100g dried noodles) * Seasoning per bowl: salt, 1/4 tsp; MSG (味精), 1/8 tsp; Sichuan peppercorn powder (花椒粉), 1/2 tsp; soy sauce (生抽), 1 tsp, toasted chili oil from above -or- Lao Gan Ma chili crisp (老干妈香辣脆油辣椒), 1 tbsp * Baby bok choy, ~1, blanched * Stock, enough to cover everything, ~350mL * Braised beef, ~3 tbsp; braised beef liquid, ~2 tbsp * Stewed peas, ~1 tbsp * Sliced ​​scallions, ~1 tbsp * Chopped cilantro, ~1 ​​tbsp Process at 13:24 INSTANT NOODLE VERSION * Dried noodles, 100g (or ~150g fresh noodles) – we used 公仔面 * Seasoning: chicken bouillon powder (鸡粉), 2 tsp; salt, 1/8 tsp; white pepper powder (白胡椒粉), 1/8 tsp, onion powder (洋葱粉), 1/16 tsp; garlic powder (大蒜粉), 1/16 tsp; cayenne pepper (辣椒面), 1/16 tsp; MSG (味精), 1/16 tsp * Baby bok choy, ~1, blanched * Carrot, ~1 inch knob, julienned and blanched * Braised beef, ~3 tbsp; braised beef liquid, ~2 tbsp * Fried egg, 1 * Sliced ​​scallions, ~2 tbsp Process at 15:50 _____________ Footage of the hilarious instant noodle parody of Bite of China is here: And check out our Patreon if you’d like to support the project! Outro Music: คนถึงคุณจัง by ธานินทร์ อินทรเทพ Found via My Analog Journal (great channel): .





  1. Hey guys, a few notes:

    1. Before anything, we want to make it clear that this video has been in the works for months in advance, even since before our recent trip to Sichuan in January. It was never conceptualized as and shouldn’t be taken as a commentary on current events. That said, we decided to go ahead with this video now anyway, partially because the ongoing tragedy brought to us a sort of… human connection? to historical footage that's often so easy to siphon away in the whole "this is just history" section of your brain.

    2. The movie at 0:52 was “A Brighter Summer Day” (牯嶺街少年殺人事件). Set in a military dependents village, it’s a beautiful film that’s… gut wrenchingly sad. Heavily recommended, but be warned that it’s definitely something that you need to be in the mood for.

    3. Man, noodle soups are so hard to film. Noodles love to drink up soup. After 5-10 minutes of sitting around (common when you’re running around filming stuff), your bowl ends up way dryer than when you started.

    4. There definitely are some Taiwan restaurants in the mainland – there’s a place that I quite like in Shenzhen (can’t seem to find on Dianping right now, I can poke around for the curious) – but often these are opened up by mainlanders that simply have some familiarity with Taiwan food. We’ve gotten in trouble in the past using northeastern restaurants in Shenzhen as a guide for certain dishes, so generally we have to have a really high degree of confidence in a restaurant before using it as the basis for a recipe.

    5. Forgot to say in the video – the red braised beef also freezes really well. So if you’re not sure you can down it all in a week’s time, no worries. You might want to portion it out before freezing, though.

    6. Beef shin is also another really classic cut of beef for this.

    7. Often at the noodle shops in Sichuan, you’ll have a choice of ‘red soup’ – which has a chili oil base, like we did today – and a ‘white soup’, which is just pork bone stock plus toppings.

    8. I don’t have too much experience cooking split peas personally (apologies), so if you have any ideas on timing and such to get the split peas to roughly the consistency that we have here, definitely leave a line. From a quick google it appears to be ~20 minutes, no need to soak. Will edit this when I have better information.

    9. Obviously, feel free to mix and match these versions. Want to do the instant noodle version, only with stock, Lao Gan Ma, and the seasoning mix from the noodle shop version? Go for it.

    Will probably edit this with a few more notes in a bit. And thank you for the patience of watching a 17 minute recipe video lol… hope you enjoyed it, we definitely threw all we had at this one 🙂

  2. I wanted to travel the same road as you did, so I ordered the original instant version from Coco Island Mart. It was pretty affordable and as you said, a step beyond the instant noodles available at most US grocery stores. Next up is your reverse engineered version.

  3. I've never been able to get behind the "blanching your bones for cleaner flavor" thing. I'd love a video that really explores the "this is what happens if you don't" kind of thing. maybe some blind taste tests, as well. I know for one, I don't care about if a broth is "clear" to me that just says it's not as rich, and flavorful, it's just….water. so, a deep dark broth is more attractive to me. more body.

  4. This is very interesting. I actually work at a Sichuan style Hot Pot restaurant and my boss makes 红烧牛肉 every week for our 牛肉面. I've always wondered about how to make it myself but I'm a waiter so I generally don't have the time to go stay in the back for an extended amount of time to watch how it's made. Thank you for making this video and especially for the history lesson. Very interesting and informative!

    Incidentally, I'm much more of a fan of the thicker slabs of beef. That's how my boss makes it, that's how I used to get 牛肉面 when I lived in Beijing, and it's always how I envision the dish when I think about it.