Taiwanese Spicy Beef Soup

This is one of my favorite things to make when it’s cold outside, and I don’t have to be anywhere for the day. It makes your house smell amazing, and has an almost therapeutic effect for me. It’s easy to make, but takes time and a lot of initial investment on ingredients, especially if you don’t usually cook Asian food from scratch. Rest assured, the “specialty” Asian ingredients here are actually fairly standard in an Asian kitchen, so you should be able to use them for a lot of other recipes. You will also need to have two large, similarly sized pots for this recipe.

Note: The Sichuan peppercorns are known to give your mouth a tingly, almost numbing feeling, like a low dose of Novocaine. This sensation, known as ma la, is completely natural and not a cause for concern. However, if Sichuan peppercorns are not available, or you’d rather not have it, feel free to omit from the recipe and add 2 teaspoons of dried chili instead, or more if you desire.


10 cups cold water
6 slices ginger
3 scallions, washed and cut in half
¼ cup Shaoxing rice wine
2 lbs beef chuck, cut into 1 inch chunks
3 tablespoon oil
1 to 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
2 heads of garlic, peeled
1 large onion, cut into chunks
5 star anise
4 bay leaves
¼ cup spicy bean paste
1 large tomato, cut into small chunks
½ cup light soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon hondashi (my secret ingredient)
fresh or dried wheat noodles of your choice
Chopped scallion and cilantro, to garnish


1. You’ll need two large pots to make this recipe. Fill one large stock pot with 10 cups of cold water. Add the ginger, scallions, Shaoxing wine and beef chunks. Cover and bring to a boil. Immediately turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. After that, turn off the heat and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in another stock pot or large wok over medium low heat, and add the Sichuan peppercorns, garlic cloves, onion, star anise and bay leaves. Cook until the garlic cloves and onion chunks start to soften (about 5 – 10 minutes). Stir in the spicy bean paste. Then add the tomatoes and cook for two minutes. Finally, stir in the light soy sauce and sugar. Turn off the heat.

3. Now, scoop out the beef, ginger, and scallions from the 1st pot and transfer them to the 2nd pot. Then, pour in the stock through a fine mesh strainer. Place the pot over high heat. Add the hondashi, cover and bring the soup to a boil. Immediately turn the heat down to a simmer, and cook for 60-90 minutes.

4. After simmering, turn off the heat, but keep the lid on, and let the pot sit on the stove (with the heat off) for another full hour to let the flavors meld together. Your soup base is done. Remember to bring the soup base to a boil again before serving.

5. Cook your noodles in a separate pot according to the package instructions, and divide among your serving bowls (you can get 8-10 servings out of your pot of soup and beef). Top the bowls with hot broth, beef, scallions, and cilantro. Serve piping hot! If you still have leftover stock and beef, you can freeze it and reheat for future meals.

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