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Sichuan Red-Braised Beef Noodle Soup (Hongshao Niurou Mian) Using the Instant Pot (or Not)

The Mala Market
Author: Taylor Holliday | The Mala Market | Inspiration & Ingredients for Sichuan Cooking


  • 2 to 2½ pound piece of beef shank with marrow bone
  • kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon good-quality Chinese five spice (or 1 star anise, 1 small piece cassia bark, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds and ¼ teaspoon whole cloves)
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered
  • 2 inches ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 7 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 tablespoons Chinese light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tablespoons Pixian doubanjiang (chili bean paste)
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese or American dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Totole chicken powder or 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon red Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 caoguo (Chinese black cardamom)
  • 1 dried erjingtiao chili, or other moderately hot chili (optional)
  • 4-6 portions Chinese wheat noodles, 100 grams per portion (thin and round is traditional)
  • 4-6 portions Chinese greens such as baby boy choy, baby yu choy, napa cabbage or Chinese celery

For serving

  • Zhenjiang black vinegar
  • chili oil
  • sesame oil
  • zhacai pickles
  • scallions, sliced
  • cilantro, roughly chopped


  • Sprinkle beef shank generously with kosher salt and coat it all over with five spice. (If using whole spices instead, add them later.)
    Instant Pot:
    Push SAUTE button and add 3 tablespoons oil. Add beef and brown on both sides, about 4-5 minutes per side.
    Add 3 tablespoons oil to a soup pot or dutch oven at medium-high heat. Brown beef on both sides.
  • Add 7 cups water to the pot along with the onion, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, wine, chili bean paste, brown sugar, chicken powder (if using), Sichuan peppercorns, black cardamom, and dried chili (if using). Add other whole spices (star anise, cassia bark, fennel seeds and cloves) if you did not use five spice in step 1.
    Instant Pot: Cover and secure lid, turn vent to sealing position and press PRESSURE COOK. Adjust pressure level to normal and set timer for 50 minutes. (Or 40 minutes if you prefer your shank sliceable.) Then walk away! When the time is up, let the pressure release naturally, about 15 to 20 minutes.
    Stovetop: Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low so that the soup bubbles away at a low simmer. Partially cover pot with lid, leaving just a small opening. Simmer for about 3 hours, stirring periodically. When meat is tender and beginning to fall apart, it is done.
  • Remove the beef pieces from the pot with a spider or slotted spoon and hold. Carefully strain the broth to remove solid bits. I do this into a large glass measuring cup so that it's then easy to pour. Let the broth settle for a couple minutes. The oil will float to the top and can be carefully poured off. Or, ideally, use a fat separator.*
  • In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add your greens and cook briefly, until just barely done. Fish them out with a spider or slotted spoon and hold. Add the noodles and cook until just done. Remove noodles and rinse briefly under hot water. Add noodles to individual serving bowls and top with beef, greens and broth. Let diners add chopped zhacai pickle, scallions, cilantro, chili oil and Zhenjiang vinegar to suit their own taste.


*Alternatively, make the beef and broth one day before and refrigerate separately. The fat will congeal on top of the broth and can be easily removed. Proceed with recipe at step 4 and rewarm the broth and beef.