Sunday, August 22, 2010

Spicy Chinese Beef Noodle Soup

Spicy Chinese Beef Noodle Soup

This recipe is close to what I ate in the 80's at a long gone Chinese restaurant. My husband and I used to go there with my older sister and her husband to slurp noodles and sweat. There was serious heat in those noodles with succulent, tender chunks of beef and lots of little red chilies. My version is milder but it doesn't have to be. Just toss in more dried red chilies and slow cook to infuse the broth with spiciness.


1-1/2 to 2 lbs beef such as brisket, chuck roast etc., something with some marbling so the result is not dry. Cut to bite-sized pieces - boiled for about a minute or two, then drained and rinsed – this removes impurities. (Tendons would be good to add too.)
2 tbs grapeseed or safflower oil
4-6 tbs hot chili bean paste (depends on how spicy you want it).
1 qt beef broth and extra chicken broth as needed
1-1/2 to 2 inch chunk of ginger smashed a bit
1-2 whole star anise
2 green onions, trimmed and left whole
4 tbs Shaoxing rice wine (no substitutions)
1 tbs dark soy sauce
3-4 cardamom pods
dried red chilies (as much as you want. I use mild chilies for flavor and hint of heat.)

Optional: 1 tsp whole Sichuan peppers

Heat the oil in the pressure cooker, add the chili bean paste and stir-fry until the oil is a “red and fragrant.” Add beef and mix to coat. Then add broth, unpeeled ginger, star anise, green onions, Shaoxing rice wine, dark soy sauce, cardamom pods and extra chilies or peppers to your taste. Stir around a few times making sure nothing sticks to bottom of pan.

Cook on high pressure for 30 mins, quick release to check doneness. If meat is not tender, reseal and cook longer as needed. Or without a pressure cooker, cook on low for about 4 - 5 hours. Slow cooking will intensify the flavors and if you have time, is the preferred method. If slow cooking, add chicken broth or water as needed

When beef is almost done, cook some noodles (Chinese or spaghetti or make your own noodles) and set aside in 4 bowls.

Remove beef from pot. Strain liquid into sauce pan make sure there are no pods or seeds or green onion bits. Taste it and add chicken broth to thin (if needed). Heat to boiling. When broth is very hot, add about 1 cup of the cooking liquid/broth to each bowl, top with beef and garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and green onions and a drop of sesame oil.

In the bowl before adding the broth, I usually add some vegetables such as shredded cabbage, or chopped baby bok choy. You can even add a few sliced jalapenos if it’s not hot enough.

NOTE: I used half chili bean paste and half koukujong. I threw in some yellow bean sauce. I used Better Than Bouillon Beef broth because it is better than bouillon. When I used brisket which is a tougher piece of meat, it took an hour in the pressure cooker. When I used chuck, it took around 30 minutes. (BTW koukujong is NOT gluten-free)

Another Note: If you have time, chill broth and skim fat. If don’t have time, skim what you can. Some fat is OK!

Vegetarian option: fry the bean paste and add broth and fresh mushrooms (shiitakes and criminis). Stir to coat the mushrooms and then add BTB veggie broth. Throw in an extra chili or two. I’d add all the spices etc. I would add shredded cabbage and some baby bok choy maybe some fresh pre-cooked bamboo shoots too.

I found a version of this recipe on the internets and modified the heck out of it. I lost the original citation but thank you to the mystery blog that gave me a good starting point!


  1. YUM!! I so want to make this. We're trading some of our lamb and goat for beef this fall and this will be one of the first recipes I make once we've made the exchange. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I think it'd be good with goat too. :O) I have another recipe, I will send to you that calls for goat and is delicious.