Beef, Chilli & Tamarind Noodles

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

Balance and Harmony

By Neil Perry

Published 2008

  • About

A great street food dish, these noodles are quite addictive. Remember to simmer the beef gently so that it doesn’t dry out too much.


  • 250 g (9 oz) beef brisket
  • 150 g ( oz) fresh hokkien noodles
  • 5 red shallots, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ teaspoon Thai shrimp paste
  • 6 small wild green chillies, roughly chopped
  • 3 teaspoons grated palm sugar (jaggery)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons kecap manis
  • 1.25 litres (44 fl oz/5 cups) fresh chicken stock
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) tamarind water
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 long red chilli, deseeded and cut into julienne
  • 1 spring onion (scallion), cut into julienne


Blanch the beef in boiling water for 1 minute, then drain, rinse and cut into 3 cm ( inch) wide pieces. Put the beef into a small pot and cover with fresh water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 1½ hours, skimming any impurities from the surface during the first 15 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the beef and drain.

Pound the red shallots, garlic, shrimp paste, chillies and palm sugar in a mortar with a pestle until you have a fine paste. Or use a blender to process the ingredients, adding a little water if necessary.

Heat a wok until just smoking. Add the vegetable oil and, when hot, stir-fry the paste until fragrant. Add the beef and kecap manis and stir-fry for 2 minutes, then add the chicken stock, tamarind water and sea salt, and simmer gently for about 1 hour until the beef is tender. Blanch the noodles for 3 minutes in boiling water, then drain.

To serve, transfer the noodles to a large serving bowl or plate. Spoon in the beef and pour on the hot broth, then scatter with chilli and spring onion.