Beef noodle soup

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Beef noodle soup
Braised Beef Noodle Soup with Beef Brisket From Din Tai Fung Singapore.jpg
Braised beef noodle soup with beef shank from Din Tai Fung restaurant
Type Noodle soup
Region or state China, Taiwan, Southeast Asia
Main ingredients Beef, beef broth, vegetables, Chinese noodles
Beef noodle soup
Traditional Chinese 牛肉麵
Simplified Chinese 牛肉面
Literal meaning beef noodles

Beef noodle soup, often referred to as beef noodles, is a Chinese and Taiwanese noodle soup made of stewed or red braised beef, beef broth, vegetables and Chinese noodles. It exists in various forms throughout East Asia and Southeast Asia. Beef noodle soup was first created by the Hui people (a Chinese Muslim ethnic group) during the Tang Dynasty of China.[1][2] The Red-braised Beef Noodle Soup (紅燒牛肉麵) is a Taiwanese[3][4][5][6][7][8] dish created by the veterans from Kuomintang who have fled to Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War in the Kaohsiung area.

In overseas Chinese communities in North America, this food can be found in Taiwanese and Chinese restaurants. In Mainland China, a large bowl of it is often taken as a whole meal with or without any side dish. In Taiwan, beef noodle vendors may also have optional, often cold side dishes, such as braised dried tofu, seaweed or pork intestine. Beef noodles are often served with suan cai (Chinese sauerkraut) on top, green onion and sometimes other vegetables in the soup as well.[9]

Beef noodles are often served as fast food in China, with Mr. Lee being the largest chain. In Taiwan, it is sometimes considered a national dish and every year the capital Taipei holds an annual Beef Noodle Festival, where various chefs and restaurants compete for the title of the "best beef noodles in Taiwan".[10][11] Due to influences from the influx of out of province Chinese from mainland China in the early 1900s, the Taiwanese version of beef noodle soup is now one of the most popular dishes in Taiwan.[12]


In Chinese, "牛肉麵" literally means "beef noodles". Mainland Chinese and Hong Kong restaurants may have a tendency to distinguish between "牛肉麵" "beef noodles" and "牛腩麵" "beef brisket noodles", with the former containing either beef shank or beef slices and the latter containing only brisket. It is sometimes served with wontons. In Taiwan, "牛肉麵" typically consists of either brisket or shank only, though many restaurants also have tendon or a more expensive option with both meat and tendon ("半筋半肉麵", literally "half tendon half meat noodle") and occasionally with tripe; 三寶麵, literally "three-treasure noodle", usually denotes a bowl containing all three. If one orders "牛肉湯麵" or "beef soup noodles" in a restaurant in Taiwan, Mainland China or Hong Kong, they might be given a cheaper bowl of noodles in only beef broth but no beef. If one orders a "牛肉湯" or "beef-soup", they could be given a more expensive bowl of beef broth with chunks of beef in it but without noodles. In Tainan, beef soup (牛肉湯) denotes a distinct and local specialty, where sliced beef is blanched in hot soup and accompanied by shredded ginger.

A bowl of kuaitiao nuea pueay in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This the Thai version of braised beef noodles

There are two common variations of beef noodle which differ in the way the broth is prepared: Braised beef noodle soup and clear broth beef noodle soup.

Braised beef noodles[edit]

When soy sauce is added, the soup is called red roasted or braised beef noodles (紅燒牛肉麵). Braised beef noodles was reputedly invented by Kuomintang Sichuan Province recruits who fled from mainland China to Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Therefore, it is sometimes incorrectly referred to as "Szechuan Beef Noodle Soup" (四川牛肉麵). The Taiwanese traditionally had a aversion to the consumption of beef because cattle were valuable beasts of burden but it is believed that this soup's popularity broke this taboo and also paved the way to Taiwan later embracing American foods that utilized beef. The red braised beef noodles is the most common type of beef noodle in Taiwan. The beef is often stewed with the broth and simmered, sometimes for hours. Chefs also let the stock simmer for long periods with bone marrow; some vendors can cook the beef stock for over 24 hours. This type of beef noodles tends to be spicy, as garlic, chili oil, doubanjiang or five-spice powder may be added - classic flavor elements of Sichuan cuisine. There are several variations with the soy-based broth, such as spicy, tomato, garlic and herbal medicine. The tomato variation (番茄牛肉麵) is popular in Taiwan and features chunks of tomatoes in a rich red-coloured tomato broth with or without soy sauce.[13] The herbal medicine variation is usually served without suancai as a topping (as its acidic properties are believed to inhibit medicinal properties) and may be accompanied by a chili paste made from beef lard.

Clear broth beef noodles[edit]

Lanzhou Beef Noodles, with clear soup and hand-pulled noodles

The Chinese Muslim style of beef noodles is also known as clear-broth or consommé-stewed beef noodles (清燉牛肉麵). It often uses halal (清真) meat and contains no soy sauce, resulting in a lighter taste that may be flavoured by salt and herbs. In Lanzhou, China, Lanzhou Beef Lamian (Simplified Chinese: 兰州牛肉面) is usually served with clear soup and hand-pulled lamian noodles. In halal restaurants, only quality local beef from the Southern Yellow cattle (黃牛, lit. "yellow cattle") prepared by the local halal butcher is used for the beef noodles.[14]

Other varieties[edit]

In Thailand, kuaitiao nuea pueay is a similar dish. In Vietnam, Bò Kho is a beef stew sometimes served with noodles (or bread as an alternative), that is similar to Taiwanese braised beef noodles. Pho is also a Vietnamese noodle soup that contains of broth, rice noodles called bánh phở, herbs, and meat, primarily made with either beef (phở bò) or chicken (phở gà).

Yaka mein is a type of beef noodle soup commonly found in Chinese restaurants in New Orleans. It consists of stewed beef, spaghetti noodles, hard-boiled egg and chopped green onions, with Cajun seasoning, chili powder or Old Bay-brand seasoning.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Lonely Planet Food,The World's Best Spicy Food,Lonely Planet, 2017
  2. ^ Nate Tate, Feeding the Dragon: A Culinary Travelogue Through China with Recipes,Andrews McMeel Publishing,2011
  3. ^ Lonely Planet Food,The World's Best Spicy Food,Lonely Planet, 2017
  4. ^ Nate Tate, Feeding the Dragon: A Culinary Travelogue Through China with Recipes,Andrews McMeel Publishing,2011
  5. ^ "Taiwanese Beef Noodles". Food Culture in Taiwan. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  6. ^ "四川」牛肉麵其實源自台灣?一窺牛肉麵的背後故事". Liberty Times Net. Liberty Times. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  7. ^ 焦, 桐. "一碗紅燒牛肉麵,喚醒許多人共同的歷史記憶". 遠見華人 精英論壇. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  8. ^ "台灣講古:翻轉本地口味的"川味"牛肉麵". BBC News. BBC News. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  9. ^ "Taipei Beef Noodle Festival: Beef Noodle Tasting". Taipei Beef Noodle Festival. Archived from the original on 17 May 2011. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
  10. ^ "Food Lovers Flock to Taipei Beef Noodle Festival". Focus Taiwan News. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
  11. ^ "2013 Taipei International Beef Noodle Festival". Taipei City Government. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
  12. ^ Goossaert, Vincent; David A. Palmer (2011). The Religious Question in Modern China. University of Chicago Press. pp. 281–283. ISBN 9780226304168.
  13. ^ Lu, Yaodong. "What is Beef Noodle: Interview: Professor Lu, Yaodong, Expert in history of food and beverage". Taipei Beef Noodle Festival. Archived from the original on 17 May 2011. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
  14. ^ "Taiwan Food Culture - Niuruo Mian (Beef Noodles)". Taiwan Food Culture News. Archived from the original on 18 December 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2013.