A Taste of Taiwan

Posted: October 18, 2007 in food, Taiwan

For dinner tonight, we tried a new dish – Chinese Cinnamon Beef Noodle Soup.  Beef noodle dishes are apparently very popular in Taiwan, and Taipei was the site of the first ever Beef Noodle Festival in 2005. 

This recipe was recently recommended by our adoption agency’s family coordinator, Laura.  She said the smell of simmering beef noodle reminds her of Taiwan.  The aroma is pretty amazing – I only wish I could capture some of it and post it here for you to experience.  Overall, we found the dish to be very tasty – the beef was tender and picked up the flavor of the other ingredients very well.  This is the first time we had eaten bok choy.  We liked the leaf part of the plant, but thought the stalk was not as good.  Next time I make this dish, I may use less of the stalk but keep the more leafy parts of the bok choy. 

I did have to make a couple of substitutions: I used fennel in place of the anise seeds, and I could not find the Asian chili paste in my grocery store, so I left it out.  I also used Somen noodles because my grocery store does not stock Udon noodles.  Here’s the recipe if you want to give it a try. 

Chinese Cinnamon Beef Noodle Soup 
6-8 servings
2 hours (20 min prep)

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
3 cinnamon sticks (about 3 inches each)
6 scallions, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
6 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons anise seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons Asian chili paste
7 cups water
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 1/2 lbs boneless beef chuck
9 ounces fresh Udon noodles (or 6 ounces dried)
1 1/2 lbs bok choy
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  1. Cut beef chuck into 3/4 in thick chunks if you did not purchase pre-cut stewing beef.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. When very hot, add the cinnamon, scallions, garlic, ginger, anise seeds, and chili paste; cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  3. Add the water, broth, soy sauce, and vinegar; bring to boil over high heat.
  4. Add the meat and bring to vigorous simmer. Lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, partially covered, until the meat is very tender, about 1 1/2 hours, checking to be sure that the soup doesn’t boil or stop simmering.
  5. Shortly before the soup is done, bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook the noodles according to package directions until just tender. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  6. When the meat is tender, remove the cinnamon sticks. Add the bok choy to the soup and simmer until the stalks are crisp-tender and the greens are very tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the noodles and let them warm through. Serve immediately, garnished with the cilantro leaves.
  1. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for the recipe!! I have one I’m going to try too, for Taiwanese Beef Noodle (but it doesn’t have cinnamon). If mine doesn’t turn out I will definitely try your recipe!! 🙂 It sounds really good.


  2. Kevin says:

    Looks good! The cinnamon is key. Try it with beef shank and maybe a little orange peel.
    My version here: http://leelaycock.blogspot.com/2007/01/beef-noodles.html

    Cheers – Kevin

    PS. I’ll be posting a “Simmered Chicken Legs” recipe soon…. it’ll have pictures and a suggested chili paste that I’ve seen for sale on Amazon.com

  3. Sarah W. says:

    I’ve eaten udon noodles before in restaurants, but I don’t think I’ve seen them for sale before. Did you find them in a regular grocery store or did you shop at an Asian grocery for them?

  4. hoostaiwan says:

    I substituted Somen noodles (Japanese, I think) because I could not find the Udon noodles. The package for the Somen noodles said it was good for using in soups, so I thought I would give it a try. I was shopping in our regular grocery store – next time I may try tp pick up the items at an Asian grocery store.

    – Cindy

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