Taiwanese beef noodle soup is a comfort food I crave in fall and winter when I want something warm and delicious. Although the ingredient list may seem long, it really pays off in the end, building layers of flavor with simple prep work. It’s also one of those recipes that tastes even better reheated since the extra time allows the meat to soak up all the flavors.
Using the Instant Pot cuts the standard cook time for Taiwanese beef noodle soup in half (from about 3 hours to an hour and a half) while producing the same rich flavors. It’s a delicious meal in a bowl, perfect for a chilly night.
This is my go-to recipe when I am hosting dinner with friends since it is easily customizable with portions of noodles, vegetables, meat, and broth. It allows guests to take part in the final assembly and make it their own.
What Is Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup?
Taiwanese beef noodle soup is a delicious staple dish, especially during chilly weather. Even though it has been rightfully popularized as Taiwanese beef noodle soup, it also borrows many flavors and spices from Chinese cuisine, including toban djan, which originated in the Sichuan province.
Since this is a beef noodle soup, don’t skimp on the wheat noodles! They are a perfect match for the flavorful soup. Some traditionalists prefer to garnish the soup with chopped Chinese sauerkraut, which adds a refreshing dash of sweet acidity to cut through the red broth, but I find that bok choy, scallion, and cilantro make great toppings.
What Is Beef Shank?
I like to think of the beef shank as the bicep muscle of the cow. It usually comes in a spindle shape where it tapers at the ends. In the butcher shop, beef shanks usually come in two forms: the foreshank and the hindshank. Very often, the hindshank tends to be the more affordable cut since it might include additional surrounding muscles and tendons, which are just as delicious for this beef noodle soup.
Beef shank is a must since the collagen in the meat slowly breaks down as it cooks, making it soft and tender. For this recipe, I use the foreshank since it is more common, but you can choose whichever shank type is available. The cook time will remain the same.
What Is Toban Djan?
Toban djan (or doban jiang) is a paste made of chiles and fermented broad beans. Not only is it delicious, it really makes a difference to the authenticity and flavors of this dish. It can also be found in many Asian supermarkets and online grocery sites.
It’s the main source of heat in Taiwanese beef noodle soup, so adjust it to your tastes. If you’re going for the lower spice level (by using less toban djan), I’d recommend seasoning the soup with salt to taste at the end to account for the amount of sodium in the chili spice paste.
Soy Sauce vs Dark Soy Sauce
By default, soy sauce implies widely used thin soy sauce, which adds umami and sodium goodness to dishes. Dark soy sauce is just a touch thicker in consistency and more complex in flavor. As the name implies, the color is also significantly darker.
Using dark soy sauce is a wonderful way of adding a deeper and richer color without adding more sodium. If preferred, you can substitute the dark soy sauce in this recipe for regular soy sauce.
Don’t Forget the Sugar
Small amounts of sugar are usually added in Asian cooking to round out the flavors rather than making a dish sweet. It is a subtle but noticeable difference. This recipe calls for regular sugar since it is readily available, but you can substitute it with chopped apple, pear, or rock sugar.
More Warming Instant Pot Soups
Instant Pot Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup
You can adjust the amount of noodles and bok choy to your preference.
2 pounds boneless beef shank
3 scallions, chopped into 1-inch segments
1 (2-inch piece) fresh ginger, sliced
3 star anise
6 cups water
For the broth
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 star anise
1 (2-inch piece) fresh ginger, sliced
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup dark soy sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons toban djan (like Lee Kum Kee brand)
3 tablespoons chili crisp
2 tablespoons sugar
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 teaspoons ground white pepper
3 white onions, quartered
4 roma tomatoes, quartered
7 cups water
Salt, to taste
For the toppings
3 medium bok choy, sliced lengthwise
2 bundles dried wheat noodles
1 scallion, sliced, to garnish
4 sprigs fresh cilantro, to garnish (optional)
- Spice ball or cheesecloth and string
Precook the beef shank:
To the inner pot of the Instant Pot, add the beef shank, scallions, ginger, and star anise. Add enough water to reach the 4-quart mark, about 6 cups. Lock on the lid and make sure the valve is set to seal.
Precooking the beef shank will release the excess scum (the frothy foamy gray bits). This will also yield a cleaner and clearer broth in the end.
Pressure cook and cool the beef shank:
Program the pressure cooker on the manual/pressure cooking setting for 10 minutes at high pressure. It will take several minutes for the Instant Pot to come up to pressure before the actual cook time begins.
While the beef shank precooks, prepare an ice bath.
Once the cook time is up and the Instant Pot beeps, carefully quick release the pressure with the steam vent.
Remove the beef shank using tongs and submerge it in the ice bath for 10 minutes. Discard the cooking water and rinse and dry the inner pot.
Preheat the pot, slice the beef, and prepare the spices:
Replace the inner pot and program the pressure cooker on the manual sauté setting at high temperature. Let preheat for 5 minutes and then add the oil.
While the Instant Pot is preheating, place the beef shank on a cutting board with tapered ends pointing left and right. Slice into 1/2-inch pieces.
Add the star anise, ginger, and bay leaves to a spice ball or wrap them in cheesecloth and tie up the bundle with string. This will help contain the spices for easy removal at the end.
Make the soup:
To the Instant Pot, add the dark soy sauce, soy sauce, toban djan, chili crisp, sugar, garlic, and white pepper. Stir until dissolved. Add the onions, tomatoes, and beef shank.
Add enough water to reach the 4-quart mark, about 7 cups.
Lock on the lid and make sure the valve is set to seal. Program the pressure cooker on the manual setting for 1 hour and 20 minutes at high pressure.
Cook the bok choy and noodles:
When there is about 15 minutes left on the Instant Pot timer, fill a large pot 2/3 with water and bring to a boil. Add the bok choy and wheat noodles. Cook according to the noodle package instructions, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and drain.
Vent, remove the spice ball, and serve:
Once the pressure cooking time is up and the Instant Pot beeps, carefully quick release the pressure with the steam vent.
Remove the lid and remove the spice ball or cheesecloth. Season with salt, to taste.
Add the noodles, bok choy, and soup to individual bowls. Garnish with scallions and cilantro, if using.
The soup will last in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. The noodles and bok choy should be cooked fresh or stored separately for up to a day. Use the Instant Pot “keep warm” function, the stovetop, or the microwave to reheat.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 47g||60%|
|Saturated Fat 14g||72%|
|Total Carbohydrate 33g||12%|
|Dietary Fiber 5g||16%|
|Total Sugars 14g|
|Vitamin C 34mg||168%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|