Spicy Beef Hand-pulled Noodles

Recently I’ve been craving Shaanxi-style Chinese food. My husband and I ate at Terra Cotta Warriors in the Outer Sunset a few weeks ago, where they served piping hot bowls of spicy hand-pulled noodles and roujiamos, otherwise known as the “Chinese hamburger.”

Biang biang noodles from Terra Cotta Warrior restaurant
Biang biang noodles from Terra Cotta Warrior in San Francisco

I’ve always held a special place in my heart for the Shaanxi region in China. It was the city of Xi’an where I first fell in love with the country and moved there shortly after. What started off as a romantic stint turned into a 7-year journey overseas. Xi’an was rough around the edges when I visited, but I always loved the city for its thousands year-old history. My favorite memories include walking around the Muslim Quarter at night and marveling at the lanterns that were hung up during the Spring Festival.

It’s been a challenge finding a good Chinese restaurant since moving back from China to the US. My taste buds for Chinese food have certainly evolved beyond the dishes I grew up with. Luckily there’s a large selection of Chinese restaurants in the Bay Area to satisfy my cravings, and regional Chinese is becoming a larger food trend.

And so I’d like to dedicate my very first noodle post to the region of China that kicked my wanderlust into full gear.

Takes 90 min, serves 4.

Part I – Spicy Beef*


Spicy beef

Lamb is usually the choice of meat for the more authentic version of this dish. However, since I’ve never handled lamb before, I decided to use beef.


  • 1 lb flank steak, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil (I used sunflower)
  • 2 teaspoons of finely chopped ginger
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black vinegar
  • 10 Sichuan red chilis, seeds removed (you can find this in any Asian supermarket)
  • 2 teaspoons of Sichuan peppercorns (you can find this in any Asian supermarket)


  • 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine (you can find this in any Asian supermarket)
  • 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of corn starch


  • 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine
  • 4 teaspoons of chili oil
  • 1 teaspoon of douban sauce (you can find this in any Asian supermarket)
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper


  1. Marinade the sliced beef with the listed ingredients. Set aside for 15 to 30 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the sauce.
  3. Heat the wok over high heat. Make sure the wok is smoking hot before you add the oil. Wait ~1 minute for the oil to heat up. Then toss the ginger, garlic, Sichuan chilis and Sichuan peppercorns into the oil. Quickly stir-fry for 1 minute (I love listening to the loud cracking sound when you first add the ingredients).
  4. Add the beef and stir-fry for a minute. Then add the sauce (again, you should hear the sizzle!) and stir-fry until the beef is fully cooked.
  5. Remove from the heat.

Part II – Noodles

This part of the recipe came straight from China Sichuan Food. I suggest you watch Elaine’s video on making Biang Biang noodles. I found it very simple and easy to follow! Note: I later realized that the noodles do expand in width when you cook them, so don’t be afraid to make them thinner!

Hand-pulled noodles
You too can make your own noodles!

Part III – Assembling the dish


  1. Place the cooked noodles into a bowl.
  2. Add the beef and garnish with the scallions.
  3. You can also add vegetables to balance out the dish. I just boiled one bunch of Shanghai bok choy and added the cooked vegetables on top of the noodles.
  4. If you like more heat, add a teaspoon of chili oil before serving.
Spicy Beef Hand-pulled Noodles
Slurp away!

*The spicy beef recipe is an adaptation of a cumin beef recipe that I found off the site Appetite for China with a few tweaks to dial up the heat.


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