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Yunnan Style Beef Soup with Herbs (云南牛扒烀)

Niu (牛) is beef. Pahu (扒烀) means braised until tender in Yunnan dialect. Yunnan is a special province, it has the largest number of ethnic minorities so there are lots of different cultures here. It borders Myanmar, Vietnam, and Laos; It is connected with Thailand and Cambodia through the Lancang Mekong River. With lots of catering collisions, Yunnan developed a complex, tropical, and interesting cuisine.
Servings: 4 people


To make the beef soup

To complete the soup

  • 10-15 cloves of garlic diced
  • 1 inch of minced ginger
  • 2 scallions diced
  • 2 shallots diced
  • 5-8 Thai bird-eye chili diced
  • 2 stalks of celery diced
  • 1/3 cups of diced mint leaves
  • 5-6 culantro leaves diced
  • 6-8 cilantro leaves diced
  • Lime juice from 2-3 limes taste and adjust
  • 2 tsp of Sichuan peppercorn powder
  • 1 tbsp of salt or to taste


  • Fill a big pot with water and add the beef. Bring it to a boil. Skim off the scum. Any tough beef cuts will work good for this recipe. Do your best to collect multiple cuts of beef so you can have different textures and flavors in one pot.
  • Put the following aromatics and spices into a spicy bag: ginger slices, scallion stalks, cinnamon stick, star anise, bay leaves, and white peppercorns.
  • Transfer the beef into a clean pot then add 2-3 liters of water. Add the spice bag. Bring it to a boil. Simmer on low heat for 1.5 hours.
  • Finely dice the garlic, ginger, scallion, shallot, celery, Thai bird-eye chili, mint, Culantro, and cilantro. Squeeze the juice from a few large-size limes. If you can not collect all these herbs, it is ok to use other kinds of herbs you like.
  • Remove all the beef from the pot and leave the broth behind. Discard the bones and the spice bag. Cut the beef into bite-size pieces.
  • Put the beef meat back into the clay pot. Bring it to a boil again. Add all the herbs along with the Sichuan peppercorn powder and salt to taste.
  • Add the lime juice gradually and taste to adjust the flavor.