You know when you and your significant other meet someone together for the first time, often, you will be asked a question at some point to break the ice – how did you guys meet? If this question is asked by a couple or someone who has mentioned about his/her significant other, it’s easy to keep the conversation going by throwing back the same question.

But, have you ever been asked about your first date in that situation? If you meet my husband Han, he will ask so that he can tell you about our first date. He is so proud because I asked him out…

Long story short. Three months after I met Han in Shanghai, I invited him to a wedding on a remote island that’s only accessible by boat. The boat ride was three hours and the wedding lasted for three days. The only person Han knew on that island was…me. I will leave it at that for you to imagine.

In Han’s words, there’s no escape. It’s probably the most efficient way to find out whether or not we were suitable for each other. You see, we’re the type of couple who don’t waste any time on relationships.

Fast forward to today, the bold move I made on our first date five years ago is taking us back to Shanghai for our own super belated wedding ceremony. In three days, we will be heading back to San Francisco where we got married two years ago, and then Shanghai, China where my family is for some final prep for the wedding. The big day is October 24, 2015.

How is a wedding, of which most part is prepared remotely from the other side of the world going to turn out? I honestly don’t know. We are excited and also very nervous to find out.

Since we will be in China for the entire month of October, my blog post schedule and content will change accordingly. I am hoping to take the advantage to show you more about Chinese cuisine. I mean REAL Chinese food, not what you order from PF Chang’s.

Let’s take today’s recipe as an example. This Szechuan-style Beef Noodle Soup is utterly savory and mouthwatering, but it requires a few uncommon ingredients that you can only find in an Asian market or on Amazon.

In my opinion, the most important part of any type of noodle soup is the soup base. What makes this recipe stands out is the combination of a homemade beef broth and fried spicy chili bean sauce with star anise and Chinese five-spice powder.

Once we get the soup base right, you may choose your preferred ingredients to complete the noodle soup. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Vegetables: Bok Choy is usually THE vegetable for Chinese style noodle soup. However, if you can’t find it in your local grocery store, spinach and watercress are great options.
  • Eggs: Both boiled eggs and fried eggs work fine.
  • Mushrooms: I am going to suggest Shiitake mushrooms for this noodle soup because of its ability to absorb the savory soup as well as its earthy taste.
  • Noodles: What kind of noodles should you use? Typically, ramen, udon, and those curly Chinese noodles are all fantastic choices. I actually used Chinese stir-fry noodles. All of those noodles can be cooked very quickly and directly in the soup base. If you can’t find any of those, try with angle hair pasta or egg noodles, which require longer time and better to be cooked separately.

This beef noodle soup is super hearty and comforting. It’s full of flavor as well as nutrient balanced. Prepare yourself because this one is spicy. But it’s too good to pass! 🙂

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Beef Noodle Soup (Szechuan Style)

  • Author: Sharon Chen
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes


Utterly savory Szechuan-style beef noodle soup with homemade beef broth and star anise and Chinese five-spice powder in fried chili bean sauce.


Units Scale
  • 1 lb beef stew meat
  • 4 oz watercress
  • 1215 shiitake mushrooms
  • 4 eggs, soft boiled
  • 8 oz Chinese noodles, or ramen, or udon
  • 1-inch chunk ginger, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly sliced
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon red wine
  • 4 tablespoons
  • chili bean sauce
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 5 tablespoons Canola oil, divided
  • 3 star anises
  • 2 teaspoons five-spice powder
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 stem green onion, chopped for garnishing
  • sesame oil
  • salt and pepper


  1. Place beef stew meat in a medium bowl; add red wine and a pinch of salt and pepper; stir well.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat up 2 tablespoons Canola oil over medium-high heat; add seasoned beef, stir until the outside of the beef starts turning brown (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add 5 cups water into the saucepan. Switch heat to high and bring to a boil, then simmer.
  4. While the meat is simmering, heat up 3 tablespoons Canola oil over medium-high heat in a small skillet (about 2 minutes).
  5. Add sugar and fry until it starts turning brown; now add star anise, five-spice powder, ginger and garlic; stir for about 10 seconds; quickly add chili bean sauce. Stir well and cook on low for about 1 minute.
  6. Transfer the chili bean sauce mixture to the large saucepan; add soy sauce, then simmer for 25 minutes.
  7. In the meantime, boil eggs. (Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan, gently add eggs and let them boil for 4.5 minutes for soft-boiled eggs or 5 minutes for hard-boiled eggs. Drain and let the eggs sit in cold water for 5 minutes before peeling.)
  8. After 25 minutes of simmering, add noodles and mushrooms in the saucepan; bring to a boil. Once the beef noodle soup is boiling, add watercress, then immediately turn off the heat. Stir until the vegetable starts to wilt.
  9. To serve, divide the noodle soup into 4 bowls evenly; drizzle with sesame oil; place one soft-boiled egg in each bowl; sprinkle with chopped green onion. Enjoy!


  • Serving Size: 4

Keywords: beef noodle soup