Spicy Beef Noodle Soup

Jacob Lewallen 1208 words 7 min read November 13, 2022 #recipe #cooking #journey

I grew up with simple tastes.

For a long time my favorite dinner was a grilled steak with corn on the cob. In my early 20s I was properly introduced to sushi and my life changed. I'm still kicking myself for missing out on 20 years of delicious sushi goodness.

Sushi and steak traded the top spot for more than a decade. Then, early on the pandemic, some friends introduced my girlfriend and I to a place here in Southern California called LAN Noodle. 1

A cropped image of wide, hand pulled noodles being lifted out of a bowl of soup. They look amazing. They are calling to you.

I am forever indebted to this friend. It was here that I had the most amazing bowl of beef noodle soup I've ever had, to this day.

At the time we were living in Koreatown and the distances, calibrated to Los Angeles tolerances, were too great to visit the restaurant as much as I wanted (every day). So, there being a pandemic, I decided it was a good time to learn as much as I could about making this dish.

Friend, I really dove deep into this and the journey is ongoing. I took copious notes, really leaning into the Emacs 2 org-mode kick I was on at the time.

I am by no means an expert! I am just a huge fan of Lanzou 3 spicy beef noodle soup. This post isn't meant to be an exhaustive recipe as I honestly don't have one myself, yet. My goal is to begin compiling tips, yummy substitutes, and important lessons that others may find useful.

Beef Broth

It all begins with making the best beef broth you can make. This is by far the most time consuming part of the process. I usually start this the day before.

  1. Buy/collect/scrounge beef bones. Feet, neck, tendons... whatever you can find. I will usually throw in one of those small hens/chickens/birds or whatever they're called. This was easier to gather together when we were living in Koreatown 😄. How much you need will largely depend on the size of the pot you'll be using. You'll want to end up with a few quarts and you can easily save/freeze whatever you don't use. I always make more than I need.

  2. Boil the bones for a few minutes to purge any impurities. Rinse them and transfer them to a clean pot filled with water. You can use the same pot, just be sure to rinse/clean it.

  3. Begin heating the water up to around 90°C and do your best to keep things in the low 90s for a minimum of 8 hours. It's important to avoid letting things boil. I use a BBQ thermometer with an High/Low setting to warn me when things are getting out of range. I've been meaning to upgrade to a more hands-off method.

  4. While this is brothing you can add salt periodically to suit your tastes. For a very large pot I end up adding a tablespoon of salt twice or three times during the process. Give it a taste and follow your heart. I like to salt while the broth is stewing because I really like tasting the broth as it's cooking.


Once your broth is ready you can transfer some or all of it to a new pot, doing your best to keep out any of the solids that may be floating around. It's also up to you how much fat layer you want keep. I usually skim quite a bit of it off the top. I toss the bones after this step.

Once you've got your broth separated, you're ready to prepare your spice mix! This is a fun step 😄. Here's what I used last time:

3 star anise
4 cloves
10ish bay leaves (there is leeway here, haha)
3 nutmeg whole (broken open)
2 cinnamon sticks
2 black cardomom (3 is fine if you like them)
1 tablespooon white peppercorn
2 teaspoons sichuan peppercorn (adjust to your taste)
1 teaspoon fennel
1 teaspoon cumin
2 dried peppers
1 tablespoon salt

I drop all of this into a square of cheesecloth and tie the ends with a string. You can then drop that into your beef broth while it's starting to boil.


Now for the beef. How you do this will depend on the meat you plan to use. I've used all differnt kinds of beef. I think something more traditional is probably a roast of some kind. Many recipes call for soaking the beef in cold water before to remove blood. For the roasts, I tend to leave the meat in for a long time, even as long as I'm simmering the spices in the broth - around 3 to even 4 hours. This is your call, you can add meat whenever and also remove meat if you feel it's being overcooked.

Strange enough, given my love for steak, I think the beef is easily the one ingredient I could skip. I appologize if this is offensive to purists. I'm all about the broth and the noodles.


These are by far what I need to work on the most. I'm still very unhappy with how my noodles come out. This is the recipe I've been using: Easy Hand-Pulled Noodles

Pretty straightforward:

- 400g flour
- 220ml water (1 cup minus 1 1tbsp)
- 2g (1/4 teaspoon) salt
- vegatable oil

I would recommend you take your time here, this is an art. Be kind to yourself. I still haven't perfected this and when I do make them they're very hit or miss. You can expect future posts on this as I work on my consistency. It has been a while since I spent some time really going over the process and comparing to sources online. I'm due to reasses my approach, perhaps even spend a weekend making a few batches of noodles.

Note: In your own research you may come across references to a substance called Penghui / Peng Hui. You can buy the stuff of Aliexpress, which I did. I'm still unconvinced that this is absolutely necessary to make amazing hand pulled noodles. Again, I'm still very low on this learning curve and I've got plenty to experiment with.



There are two locations and both are delicious. One in Arcadia and the other in West Covina. I haven't tried any of their competitors. LAN Noodle Instagram


Slow down vim fans. I was a Spacemacs person and only managed because of evil-mode. Now, I use VScode. Vim bindings for life.


A trip back to China is definitely in my future. You can take a two week courses just on the noodle making! Here are some other links if you'd like to dive a little deeper:

Beef Noodle Soup Wikipedia

The Food Ranger's trip To Lanzou

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