Today we have two really really exciting things to talk about. Thing #1: Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup, a recipe that has long weighed on our minds. Thing #2: Instant Pot and the start of our journey with this beloved and much-hyped kitchen sensation.
What Is Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup?
First, let’s talk about what Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup is. It’s delicious. Tender beef, a rich and slightly spicy broth, fresh noodles, a little bok choy, and that absolutely necessary fistful of Chinese pickled mustard greens along with fresh scallions and cilantro.
The result is a perfectly orchestrated bowl of spicy, savory, fresh, salty deliciousness. Go on, drool on your keyboard. It happens.
A Seemingly Complicated Recipe…
BUT. Despite my love for Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup and how simple and iconic it is, recipes always seemed incredibly complicated and intimidating to me.
Making the broth, figuring out the balance of infinite spices, getting that tender beef…where do you start? It was just one of those foods where, when I wanted it, I went out and paid someone else to make it, or convinced myself that I was actually craving something else.
…Simplified with An Instant Pot Pressure Cooker
Enter the INSTANT POT. We have many friends and Woks of Life readers who have remarked upon the magic capable with the Instant Pot. We also know many who are somewhat quizzical about this trendy kitchen gadget.
A friend of mine finally convinced me to buy one, and I thought no better way to test it out than with a traditional pressure cooker performance test: braised beef, specifically…Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup.
Well, long story short, it works!
Getting beef to tender perfection for beef noodle soup has been a culinary challenge that has long plagued me. Add the need to make a rich and delicious broth to the equation, and I’m pretty ready to crawl away and boil up a pack of instant ramen instead.
We’ve heard storied things about what the Instant Pot is capable of doing, but never quiiite believed in them until making this Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup. The active time of getting all the ingredients into the Instant Pot breezed by.
Add water, close the lid, and walk away. No sweating over whether or not your beef is tenderizing or your soup is boiling down to nothing. When we opened up the lid, the result was a rich, dark broth, and beef shank that practically fell apart when you picked it up with your chopsticks. ~Magic.~
What You Need to Make This Soup
So, I know you’re asking—what’s the right cut of beef for this soup, AND do you need bones to make the broth?
If you ask my mom, my dad, and my sister about the best cut of beef for noodle soup, they will undoubtedly tell you to look for a fatty cut of beef chuck. The trouble with beef chuck is that it can be tough to find a piece that’s marbled enough to yield consistently good results.
(There was a very heated phone call in the middle of our Chinese grocery store, during which we all debated the merits of various cuts of beef. If only y’all knew the number of family squabbles we’ve endured for this blog…)
For me, it’s all about the beef shank. It’s fatty and has the added bonus of delicious tendon shot through it. Problem? It takes a looong time to tenderize on the stovetop. At least 3 hours of low simmering!
But with an Instant Pot pressure cooker? GET AFTER IT. The best part? NO BONES NEEDED. The nature of this recipe is that the beef infuses the broth with plenty of flavor, and the spices and sauces round it all out. No need for hard-to-find bones. Just saved you an annoying conversation with your local meat department!
Our minds are already racing with more ways to make Asian favorites and Chinese classics with the Instant Pot, so look out for more recipes in the coming days! (Note: This post was not sponsored by Instant Pot. We went out and bought one just to try it like everyone else out there!)
And if you’re looking for other beef noodle soup recipes, we have some favorites elsewhere on the blog, no instant pot needed: Braised Beef Noodle Soup (红烧牛肉面), Lanzhou Beef Noodle Soup, and Bo Kho: Spicy Vietnamese Beef Stew with Noodles. Of course, if you’d like to use the Instant Pot to make any of these other recipes, they can be adapted! We also have instructions below on how to make this recipe without an instant pot.
But for now, let’s talk about this Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup.
Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup Recipe Instructions
Boil enough water in a pot to boil all of your beef. Once the water is boiling, add the beef. Let it come back up to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. Strain in a colander and rinse thoroughly with fresh water to remove any impurities.
Next, in your instant pot, turn on the saute setting. Add the oil, crushed ginger, garlic, scallions, and onions in that order.
Stir to lightly caramelize. Let the onion turn translucent. Add the tomato and dried chilies.
Next, add the meat to the pot. Then add the tomato paste, spicy bean paste (AKA doubanjiang), sugar, soy sauce, and Shaoxing wine. Mix thoroughly.
Pour 8 cups of water into the instant pot. Add the Chinese aromatic herbs packet (lu bao). The instant pot should be filled to the 10-cup line; it shouldn’t be more than ⅔ of the way full per safety instructions. Our instant pot is the largest size (8 quarts); if yours is smaller, you can halve the recipe accordingly.
Close the lid of the instant pot, and make sure you have your vent set so it is not venting. Cook for 100 minutes on the Meat/Stew setting. If you don’t have an instant pot, you can use a regular pot on the stove, but instead, cook the soup on a low simmer for 3 hours.
When the instant pot timer is up, carefully release the pressure valve (wear an oven mitt, so you don’t scald yourself!). Boil some noodles per package instructions. (Note: if you’re feeling up to the challenge, you can also make your own fresh noodles using our Chinese handmade noodle recipe.)
And in the last minute or two of the noodles cooking, throw your bok choy in and blanch until just tender.
Serve each bowl of Taiwanese beef noodle soup with a serving of noodles, a few stalks of bok choy, and generous sprinklings of finely minced cilantro, scallions, and Chinese pickled mustard greens (also known as snow vegetable or 雪菜; note this is different from the Cantonese variety).
Pro tip, buy the pre-seasoned spicy mustard greens and you can use them straight out of the package.
If you are using the non-spicy version (from a can, for example), chop and saute with a little oil, a few chopped dried red chilies, and a pinch of sugar.
Enjoy this one!