Homemade Chinese Beef Noodle Soup- My first attempt

Growing up, beef noodle soup was a staple in our house.  It's something we would eat on the weekends for lunch at least a few times a month.  I enjoyed eating it, but it was never one of my favorite dishes.  Even when I went off to college, it wasn't one of the dishes that I missed and asked my mom to make when I went home for visits.

Then about two years ago, Boyfriend went home with me because we had a friend's wedding to attend.  For lunch, my mom made beef noodle soup.  It was Boyfriend's first time eating beef noodle soup, and he absolutely loved it.  Even now, he constantly talks about my mom's beef noodle soup.


From then on, he wanted to try beef noodle soup wherever we went.  So I started ordering it at restaurants.  Watching his passion for beef noodle soup made me excited about it for the first time too.  Soon, I started craving beef noodle soup and wanting to find good beef noodle soup places.  And whenever I go home now, my mom always has beef noodle soup waiting for me.

I decided to finally try to make it myself.  I didn't ever learn how, so I tried my best to follow phone instructions from my mom.  It was kind of frustrating to make.  Like many chinese dishes, this is not something you can whip up.  To get the deep, beef broth, the broth needs to be simmering for several hours.  I made mine over two days.

I think the end result was pretty decent for my first attempt.  The beef was my favorite part.  The beef was really tender and flavorful.  For some reason my soup didn't taste exactly right though.  Some flavors were missing, but I'm not quite sure what I did wrong.  It was also more oily than my mom's.

When I presented my creation to Boyfriend, he said that the broth wasn't as good as my mom's. Ouch ;-). He really liked the beef though. He also didn't like my noodles.  For the first night I made this, I was in a rush, and rather than using a thicker, chewier noodle, I used a really thin noodle (mian xian), that cooks really fast, but is very delicate with no chewiness at all.  So picky! When he gets all food critic-like it makes me laugh.

When I first met Boyfriend, his meals consisted of vienna sausages and rice! He's come a long way…He always insists he could go back to his old lifestyle at any point, but I'm pretty sure his food palate has changed too much to go  back.

I cooked the broth some more, added some more soy sauce, and then made it with some thick potato starch noodles I found at the Korean store.  He liked this version much better.

Beef Noodle Soup


  • five spice packet
  • soy sauce
  • beef shank
  • beef bones
  • garlic


1.  Fill a large pot with water, about halfway full.  Then add in the beef bones.  I was able to buy a bag of beef bones at Ranch 99.  You should be able to find them at your local asian supermarket.  The bones are really big.  I used about 5-6 bones in my pot.  Cover pot with a lid and let simmer for an hour.  As it simmers, the broth will develop some gray scum at the top as a result of the beef bones.  Scoop out as much of it as you can with a large spoon.

2.  Then add in chopped garlic and some soy sauce (I used maybe a quarter cup).  Let broth simmer for another hour.

3.  Add in beef shank.  You can add in whole or cut into pieces.  If you cut into pieces, the meat will cook faster.  I forgot what the advantages of putting it in whole are.  I tried to put mine in whole, but there wasn't enough room, so I ended up cutting mine.

4.  Add in chinese five spice packet.  I also purchased mine from Ranch 99.  Let pot simmer for another hour. 

5.  Let the beef and broth sit overnight.  The next day, add in more soy sauce until it suits your tastes.  I added in approximately 3/4 cup.  Simmer for another 1 1/2 hour, or until meat is very soft and tender.  By this time, the beef soup should be ready.  If the broth does not seem to have enough beef flavor or the meat is still hard, you can cook longer.  If you cooked the beef shank whole, remove and cut into small chunks against the grain, before putting the meat back.  You can use other types of beef cuts, but I really liked the beef shank.  It has very little fat and has a lot of tendons, which creates for a very tender meat.  No tendon meat tends to be very dry.

6.  Boil noodles in a separate pot of hot water until cooked.  Place cooked noodles into a bowl and pour hot beef noodle soup into bowl.  Serve and enjoy!  You can also add vegetables to your beef noodle soup.  Often, bok choy is used. 

7.  With the remaining pot of soup (I made a lot since it takes so long to make), you can continue to reheat to further develop the flavor.  If the pot of soup is boiled everyday, it can last for a few days without refrigeration.

16 comments on “Homemade Chinese Beef Noodle Soup- My first attempt”

  1. Hungry for your beef noodle soup now…

  2. I use almost the same method too. Nice! How big is the shank you bought – lb wise? Can you use another type of beef? Like beef stew meat?
    My mom always put ginger and green onions during the stewing part. Maybe that’ll do the trick next time for yours?
    I laughed when i saw your bf’s ‘honest’ critique of his sentiments for your beef stew. You two must have a nice loving, honest relationship 🙂 But yeah, it’s hard to beat ‘mom’s’ original recipe for anything.
    Nice post! Love the details and pics!

  3. Hey Kirbie – Looks nice. I usually brown my meat and bones to help develop the sugars and deglaze with Shiaoxing to take of all the good yummy stuff to start my NRM. This also means less scum. I don’t use those five spice mixes and prefer to use star anise, ginger, hot bean paste, garlic, the whites of green onions, soy sauce, and sugar as the base for flavors.

  4. I’m definitely going to make it again.

  5. I think my shank was about 2-3 lbs. I just pointed to a piece at Ranch 99, and they all appeared to be about the same. You can use beef stew meat too. My mom has recently been using one at Vons, the Rancher’s Reserve brand. I think she said it was the top blade cut or something.
    I think I need to add ginger in next time and green onions. Maybe my mom did tell me to add ginger and I just forgot.
    Boyfriend used to love everything I cooked for him. Now he gets all picky! hehehe

  6. I completely forgot about removing the scum part! Just added it to the directions. Your version sounds delicious, though a bit more complicated. I usually don’t have the spices lying around which is why I use the five spice mix.

  7. NRM has never been my favorite. My mom always added ginger, whole green onions, garlic and star anise too. She also puts the the meat/bone in after the water starts boiling because she says it cuts down on the scum. I can’t comment to any of this since I’ve never made it but I sure loved her broth.

  8. this is an awesome post. props to you for making this…i need to start learning all the things my parents make me before i go off to school. those are some really beautiful pictures of the beef. i’ll bet it was really tasty!

  9. I used to always get tired chewing on the meat, but the shank I used this time I didn’t seem to have that problem. Interesting tip on the meat/bone after water boiling. I’ll need to try that next time!

  10. I was supposed to learn all these things before I left home for college and I never did. And every time I go home my mom has plans to show me stuff, but we never end up having time. So I spend a lot of time on the phone and experimenting. hehee.

  11. I was sitting here all cold and sad and then I read your post and now I’m happy and inspired! Keep posting!

  12. You can remove a lot more of the oily-ness by stopping the cooking process and putting the broth into the fridge. The fat will solidify and you can remove it with a spoon.
    I’m in the process of making this right now 🙂 I’m completely excited! It smells great.

  13. Aww. Thanks! Your comment made my day =)

  14. Interesting. Thanks for the tip. I hope your beef noodle soup turned out well!

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