We’ve got two great topics for discussion today. The first thing is a recipe for Taiwanese beef noodle soup that has been on our minds for a long time. Second, we finally got an Instant Pot and have begun our adventures with this much-touted kitchen wonder.
Soup with beef noodles is a staple in Taiwan.
Let’s start with the basics and define Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup. Indeed, it’s a delectable treat. Tender beef, a savory and mildly spicy broth, fresh noodles, a sprinkling of bok choy, a handful of Chinese pickled mustard greens, and a sprinkling of scallions and cilantro—all of these things must be present in your soup.
The result is a bowl of balanced, flavorful, fresh, and salty goodness. Feel free to drool on your computer. Yes, occasionally, that does occur.
A SUBSTANTIALLY CONFUSING RECIPE…
BUT. Although Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup is one of my favorite foods and is incredibly easy to make, I’ve never attempted to make it because the recipes always seemed so complicated and daunting.
Where do you even begin? There’s making the broth, balancing the infinite spices, and getting the tender beef. I would either go out and pay someone else to make it for me when I had a craving for it, or I would convince myself that I craved something else.
EASILY ACCOMPLISHED USING A PRESSURE COOKER INSTANT POT
We now have the INSTANT POT to help. Friends and Woks of Life readers alike have marveled at the miraculous results we’ve achieved with our Instant Pot. Many people we know are dubious about this cutting-edge addition to the kitchen.
After much persuasion from a friend, I bought a pressure cooker. Braised beef would be a good first test dish.
Tsao’s Beef Noodle Soup is a traditional dish from Taiwan.
To cut a long story short, it does the trick!
I struggled in the kitchen for a long time with the seemingly simple task of cooking beef to the ideal tenderness for beef noodle soup. When you factor in the time and effort required to make a flavorful stock, I’m ready to give up and boil some instant ramen.
Before attempting to make this Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup in the Instant Pot, we had only heard rumors about the appliance’s purported abilities. The time spent actively assembling the Instant Pot was swiftly forgotten.
Pour in some water, cover, and leave it alone—no need to worry if the beef is tenderizing or the soup is reducing to nothing. The beef shank was so tender that it practically disintegrated in your hands when you picked it up with chopsticks, and the broth was a deep, dark color. ~Magic.~
REQUIREMENTS FOR THIS SOUP
What kind of beef works best in this soup, and are bones necessary to make the broth?
My parents and sister would agree that a fatty beef chuck cut makes the best noodle soup. It can be difficult to locate beef chuck that is sufficiently marbled to ensure reliable results.
My favorite cut of beef is the shank. Its fatty and flavorful tendon runs right through it. Problem? Stovetop tenderization is a lengthy process. Cook on low for at least three hours.
On the other hand, when using a pressure cooker like an Instant Pot? PLOW INTO IT. What’s even better? NO MEAT IS REQUIRED. The beef imparts a robust flavor to the soup base, and the additional seasonings and sauces help to round out the dish. Don’t bother looking for those rare bones anymore. I just avoided a potentially frustrating exchange with the butcher.
Keep an eye out for more recipes in the coming days; our minds are already racing with more ideas for making Asian staples and Chinese classics in the Instant Pot.
Furthermore, we have some other favorite beef noodle soup recipes on the blog that don’t require an instant pot: We recommend the Bo Kho: Spicy Vietnamese Beef Stew with Noodles, the Braised Beef Noodle Soup, and the Lanzhou Beef Noodle Soup. Any of these other recipes can easily be used in an Instant Pot. If you don’t have an instant pot, don’t worry; we’ve included instructions for making the dish anyway.
First, though, let’s discuss this beef noodle soup from Taiwan.
- 3 lb. of beef shank (cut into 2-inch chunks)
- 2 tbsp. of oil
- 2-inch piece of ginger (smashed)
- 6 cloves of garlic (smashed)
- 3 scallions (cut into 2-inch segments)
- 1 pc. of onion (cut into wedges)
- 1 pc. of tomato (cut into wedges)
- 4 pcs. of dried chilies (ripped in half)
- 1 tbsp. of tomato paste
- 2 tbsp. of spicy bean paste douban jiang
- 2 tsp. of sugar
- 1/2 cup of soy sauce
- 1/2 cup of Shaoxing wine
- 8 cups of water (to make the soup broth)
- 1 Chinese aromatic herb packet
- 32 oz. of fresh wheat (white) noodles (900g)
- tiny handful of bok choy for each serving
- cilantro (chopped)
- scallions (chopped)
- pickled mustard greens
CREATING YOUR SPICE SACHET, TIE UP THE FOLLOWING INGREDIENTS IN CHEESECLOTH:
- 4 pcs. of star anise
- 1 pc. of Chinese cinnamon stick
- 3 pcs. of bay leaves
- 1 tbsp. of fennel seeds
- 1 tbsp. of cumin seeds
- 1 tsp. of coriander seeds
- 2 tbsp. of Sichuan peppercorns
- ¼ tsp. of five spice powder
- ¼ tsp. of black pepper
- Start a pot of boiling water to add all of the beef. When the water starts to boil, put in the beef. Bring it back to a boil, and keep it there for a full minute. Rinse thoroughly with clean water after straining in a colander to eliminate any leftover debris.
- The next step is to use the instant pot’s saute function. Follow this order when adding the oil, ginger, garlic, scallions, and onions: oil, ginger, garlic, scallions, and onions. Caramelize slightly by stirring. Wait for the onion to become see-through. Put in the tomato and the chili powder.
- The meat should be added to the pot next. Then, stir in the sugar, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and spicy bean paste.
- Fill the instant pot with 8 cups of water. Include the seasoning packet. You shouldn’t fill your Instant Pot more than two-thirds of the way, so fill it to the 10-cup line. Cut the recipe in half if your Instant Pot is less extensive than ours (8 quarts).
- You should seal the Instant Pot and make sure the vent is not open. Set the timer for Meat/Stew and cook for 100 minutes. Use a regular pot on the stove and simmer the soup for 3 to 4 hours on low if you don’t have an instant pot.
- When the instant pot’s timer goes off, use caution when opening the pressure valve (avoid burns by handling the valve with an oven mitt). Toss your bok choy into the pot of boiling water with your noodles in the final minute or two of cooking time to quickly blanch them until they are just tender.
- The traditional toppings for Taiwanese beef noodle soup include finely minced cilantro, scallions, and Chinese pickled mustard greens, along with a serving of noodles and a few stalks of bok choy. An insider tip: if you like things on the spicier side, pick up a package of spicy mustard greens and cook them as directed on the package.
- Saute in a pan with a little sugar if you’re using a mild dried red chili, or just a little oil and the chilies (from a can, for example).