Friday Random Recipe: Niu Rou Mien (Spicy Beef Noodle Soup)

This is a complicated recipe. It takes a couple of days to do properly,
and works best done with a slow-cooker. But it’s worth it. It’s a Taiwanese dish – a spicy beef noodle soup. It’s pretty much the national
dish of Taiwan – Taiwanese love this dish. There are annual competitions
in Taipei for who can make the best Niu Rou Mien. I learned about it from
my wife, who grew up in Taiwan. I’ve made this a few times, and this is the
recipe the way I’ve worked it out.


  • 3 lbs beef soup bones
  • 3 lbs short ribs with bones.
  • 3 star anise.
  • 12 crushed cloves of garlic.
  • 3 crushed slices of fresh garlic.
  • 1 bunch scallions.
  • 2 tablespoons szechuan peppercorns.
  • 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce.
  • 1/3 cup light soy sauce.
  • 2 tablespoons sugar.
  • 4 dried szechuan chili peppers, torn into pieces, with seeds.
  • About 8 tablespoons of sambal olek or sriracha.
  • Sesame oil.
  • Fine chinese wheat noodles (often labelled as “wonton noodles”).
  • Baby chinese broccoli, baby bok choi, or shanghai bok choi.


  1. Put a wok or large saucepan onto high heat. Add some canola oil
    and brown the soup bones. Then transfer the bones to either a large
    stockpot or 5 quart slow cooker.
  2. In small batches, put the short ribs into the saucepan. Add enough
    chili paste (either sambal or sriracha) to get the meat well coated. After
    they’re well-browned, transfer them to another pot.
  3. Add just barely enough water to cover the shortribs, and then simmer
    them until they’re cooked through. Drain the liquid, and add it
    to the slow-cooker.
  4. Add more chili paste to the cooked ribs, and put them into the
    fridge overnight.
  5. In a fresh pan with a bit of oil, add the garlic, shredded chilis,
    anise, and ginger, until they just start to brown. Then add them to the
  6. Add the two soy sauces, the peppercorns, and the whites of the scallions
    to the slow cooker. Then add enough water to fill the cooker.
  7. Turn the cooker on to simmer, and let it cook for at least 12 hours.
  8. Put the broth through a fine sieve, and then back into the slow cooker. Throw away the sieved ingredients.
  9. Take the refrigerated beef, and add it to the broth. Add water until
    the pot is about as full as it was when you started the night before.
  10. Let it simmer for another 4 to 6 hours, until the meat is falling apart. While it’s simmering, taste it, and add salt or chili-paste as needed; if the vinegar in the chili paste makes it too sour, add a drop of sugar.
  11. Now, the main dish is done. You should have a ton of wonderful spicy beef broth.
  12. Cook the noodles in boiling salt-water.
  13. To serve, bring it to a boil. Add in a couple of stems/leaves of whatever
    veggie you picked for each serving, and let it cook until just cooked through.
  14. For each serving, take a large soup bowl. Put a couple of drops of sesame
    oil into the bottom of the bowl. Then add a large helping of noodles, beef,
    veggies, thinly sliced scallion tops, and fill with the broth.

0 thoughts on “Friday Random Recipe: Niu Rou Mien (Spicy Beef Noodle Soup)

  1. Al

    Wow, this is cool. You sign up for maths knowledge and discussion, and you get recipes. And relevant recipes – I live in Taipei! Sounds like a much better bowl of niu rou mian than I normally have (probably better for the gut to cook it at home). I’d go with rougher or thicker noodles, though – that’s how they are here, or it seems to me to be that way. I prefer shacha (沙茶) gan niu rou mian – Chinese barbecue-sauce dry beef noodle – to be honest, but it’s a moot point because my favourite noodle place at my university has given me food poisoning the last two times I’ve been there, so I’m eating more dumplings. I think it’s the liangmian – cold noodles – but I can’t remember, and I hate food poisoning, so it’s putting me off.
    Tasty! And if you like them, come out to Taiwan. It’s a lovely place. And I can give you a list of great restaurants in Taipei. And a list of places to avoid! I’m bookmarking this so that I can cook some Taiwanese style noodles when I’m back in the UK.

  2. AJS

    Can you please post the amounts in normal measuring units, for those of us whose measuring jugs are only labelled in millilitres and whose weighing scales are only labelled in grammes?

  3. Mark C. Chu-Carroll

    I’m sorry, but no I can’t. Because *my* measuring spoons and scales are all american, and only use the stupid english system units.
    Google will convert them for you if you need help; if you type “2 teaspoons to milliliters” to Google, it comes back with “2 US teaspoons = 9.85784319 milliliters”

  4. David Harmon

    Google will convert them for you if you need help;
    But if you try to measure 9.85784319 milliliters, you’re gonna need more help than that! (Nanofluidics, anyone?) 😉
    It does sound like a good recipe!

  5. [eatingclub] vancouver

    Thanks for the recipe.
    I’ve been researching Taiwan beef noodle recipes online, because I’ve been dying to make it at home.
    One thing I haven’t made headway about is the pickled greens they serve on top. Any ideas how to make this? I bought pickled mustard greens from the store before but it wasn’t the same. How, how, how to get that pickled greens garnish?

  6. Mark C. Chu-Carroll

    I haven’t seen it served with pickled greens; the only time I’ve had it in a restaurant, they used fresh chinese broccoli, and fresh is what my wife remembers going in.
    But if it’s pickled mustard greens, that’s actually fairly easy. There are a bunch of different kinds of pickled mustard greens that you can buy in a chinese grocery. The easiest to find one is sold wrapped in shrink-wrapped plastic. In my experience, that’s rarely used in cooking – it’s used in cold dishes. The other kind is sold in a ceramic crock, usually labelled something like “szechuan pickled vegetable”. It doesn’t say mustard greens in english on the package. The ones from the crock are much more heavily pickled. The same place that I had the NRM made a wonderful dish from stir-fried rice-cake with the pickled greens.


Leave a Reply