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No Sweet Sour: Yunnan Small Pot Rice Noodles (Xiaoguo Mixian, 小锅米线)

The Mala Market
Author: Michelle Zhao of No Sweet Sour for The Mala Market


  • Thin/quick-cooking medium stockpot (avoid heavy-bottom pots)


Pork Bone Broth

  • 500 grams pork leg bones, about two pieces cut in half, OR pork ribs, cut between each rib ask butcher to cut
  • 15 grams unpeeled ginger, lightly smashed with the flat side of a knife
  • 1 pod black cardamom, lightly smashed
  • ½ teaspoon whole huajiao (Sichuan pepper)

Xiaoguo Mixian (Small Pot Rice Noodles)

  • 100 grams dried rice noodle or 250 grams fresh
  • 80 grams pork mince at least 20% fat
  • ½ teaspoon minced ginger
  • teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 300 milliliters pork stock
  • 1 tablespoon pork lard
  • 1 tablespoon red oil doubanjiang (Pixian preferred)
  • 2-3 Chinese chives, cut into 3 cm (~1 inch) long pieces
  • handful fresh bean sprouts or thinly sliced Chinese cabbage, white parts only
  • tablespoons pickled mustard greens, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese light soy sauce (Zhongba preferred)
  • 1 tablespoon Yunnan sweet soy sauce (Tuodong preferred)
  • 1-2 tablespoons chili oil, with flakes
  • handful fresh pea shoots if available


Pork Bone Broth

  • In a large stockpot, add enough water to cover the leg bones by 5 cm (2 inches). Bring to a boil over a high flame and let it cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Drain the stock and rinse the pork bones under cold water to wash off any blood and foam. Next, wash the stockpot, then return the pork bone back to the pot.
  • Add 4 liters of cold water to the stockpot. Bring to a boil. Skim off any remaining foam. Add all seasonings, turn the heat down to low, and simmer (covered) gently for at least 3 hours.
  • Strain the stock. Let the broth cool. You can store the stock in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Xiaoguo Mixian (Small Pot Rice Noodles)

  • If using dried rice noodles: Cook the rice noodle according to the instructions on the package. Soak the cooked rice noodles in icy water until thoroughly chilled. Drain and set aside.
  • Combine pork mince, salt, and ginger in a small bowl. Add the water one tablespoon at a time, then stir counterclockwise until the water fully absorbs in the mince. Repeat until you've added all 3 tablespoons water. Shape into a rough patty and set aside.
  • Add the pork stock and lard to the stockpot. Bring to a boil over a high flame. Add the pork, then, using the backside of a soup spoon, gently press on the pork without breaking it loose into small pieces. Try to get a meatloaf shape by pressing on the pork. Add the Pixian douban and let boil for 30 seconds.
  • Add the chives, bean sprouts, pickled mustard greens, and rice noodles. Bring to a boil, then let cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Season with light soy and sweet soy sauce, then cook for another 30 seconds. Add the chili oil and fresh pea shoots to the top right before turning off the heat.
  • Pour over into a large bowl. Use a spoon to support the tilting pot, by letting the liquid into the serving bowl first, then slowly pour over the rest of the non-liquid ingredients. Serve immediately while hot and enjoy.


To make your own chili oil using roasted rapeseed oil and fragrant-hot ground chilies, see Kathy's Traditional Sichuan Chili Oil recipe. Or, for the ultra-mouthwatering 香辣 (xiānglà)/fragrant-hot version, see the Aromatic Sichuan Chili Oil recipe!
  • For the broth, it is best to select bone-in pork leg (腿骨, tuǐgǔ) or bone-in pork shoulder (肩骨, jiāngǔ). Pork spareribs (排骨, páigǔ) produce a more meaty flavor than the leg and shoulder bones. You can choose ribs if you wish for a meatier taste. 
  • Choose a pork grind or cut with at least 20% fat if you are mincing your own meat for the patty, like many families do on a weekend morning. Pork belly makes for extra luxurious ground pork.
  • For the leafy greens, fresh bean sprouts and thinly sliced Chinese cabbage are excellent choices. If I had to be picky, I would prefer to use the white part of Chinese cabbage because it’s crunchier than the leafy part.
Avoid using stainless steel or heavy-bottom pots, as it takes much longer to cook the ingredients. Aluminum pots work well for non-induction stovetops.