Spicy braised beef soup with hot bean paste

Shanghai noodles are thick, white noodles and cook like fresh pasta. Substitute them with Hokkien, udon or rice noodles if you like.


  • 700g piece beef brisket, trimmed
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp Szechuan (Sichuan) peppercorns (available spice shops and Asian grocers)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced into rounds
  • 2 tbsp Korean fermented hot chilli bean paste (gochujang)
  • 2 tbsp Chinese soybean paste (huang jing)
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine*
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp castor sugar
  • 160g fresh Shanghai noodles
  • 3 Chinese cabbage leaves
  • 1 long red chilli, finely sliced
  • Handful coriander leaves


Place beef in a pot with plenty of cold water, then bring to a boil. When scum rises to the top and the water is boiling again, remove meat and rinse. Discard water. Cut beef into 2cm pieces.

Dry-roast spices in a pan on a medium heat for 4-5 minutes until fragrant. Allow to cool, then wrap in muslin cloth and tie up so they are easy to remove later.

In a large pot, put in beef, wrapped spices and 2 1/2 litres of water, then bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours. Lift out beef and spice bag. Reserve stock, beef and spices.

Heat oil in a wok until hot; stir-fry garlic, ginger and spring onions for 1 minute. Add both bean pastes and continue to cook until fragrant.

Deglaze with Shoaxing wine, then season with light soy sauce and sugar. Adjust seasoning as needed.

Add beef, spice bag and 1 1/4 litres of the retained beef stock; bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Cook noodles in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and reserve.

Remove spice bag from wok and discard. Dice cabbage leaves into 3cm pieces and cook in wok for a minute, then add noodles to heat through.

Ladle soup into four large, deep bowls and garnish with chilli and coriander.

NOTES: First published in the Good Weekend.

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