Yunnan-Style Breakfast Noodle Soup (Mi Xian)

yunnan breakfast noodle soup
Yunnan-Style Breakfast Noodle Soup
Yunnan-Style Breakfast Noodle Soup (Mi Xian)Matt Taylor-Gross

This popular breakfast in China's Yunnan Province starts with fresh rice noodles and ground meat in a bare-bones pork broth, then gets customized with as many as a dozen condiments. Yunnan mi xian noodles (round and spaghettilike) or mi gan (flat and wide) are traditional, but any size rice noodle works, and dried varieties are fine in a pinch. Find fresh rice noodles in the refrigerated section at most Asian markets.

What You Will Need

Yunnan-Style Breakfast Noodle Soup
This popular breakfast in China's Yunnan Province starts with fresh rice noodles and ground meat in a bare-bones pork broth, then gets customized with as many as a dozen condiments.

For the broth

  • 5 lb. pork bones
  • 12 tsp. kosher salt
  • Black vinegar, for serving
  • Chile oil, for serving
  • Chile paste, such as samba oelek, for serving
  • Fresh mint leaves, for serving
  • Garlic chives (Chinese chives), chopped, for serving
  • Pickled mustard greens, chopped, for serving
  • Pickled red chiles, thinly sliced, for serving
  • Scallions, thinly sliced, for serving
  • Sesame seeds, for serving
  • Kosher salt, for serving
  • MSG, for serving

For the meat and noodles

  • Kosher salt
  • 3 12 oz. pork shoulder, thinly sliced
  • Fermented chile bean paste (doubanjiang), to taste
  • 12 lb. ground pork
  • 16 oz. fresh rice noodles

Instructions

  1. Make the broth: Fill a large stockpot halfway with water and bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Carefully add the pork bones and cook, undisturbed, for 5 minutes. Remove the bones using a slotted spoon and reserve. Discard the liquid. Clean out the pot and place back on the stove. Add the bones and fill with enough water to cover (about 18 cups). Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, undisturbed, until the broth is flavorful and reduced, 3 hours. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the solids (you should have 8 cups broth). Use broth immediately, or let cool, then chill up to 2 days.
  2. When ready to serve, reheat the broth over medium-high heat until any fat has been melted. Add 12 tsp. kosher salt and up to 1 cup water to dilute and stretch the broth slightly.
  3. Make the pork: Meanwhile, fill a medium saucepan with 2 inches water and bring to a boil. Season with 2 pinches of salt and add the pork shoulder. Cook until tender and no longer pink, 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pork to a bowl (reserve the cooking water). Stir in the fermented chile bean paste, and cover the bowl with foil.
  4. Bring the cooking water back to a boil and add the ground pork. Cook, breaking it into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove the ground pork to a separate small bowl and cover with foil.
  5. Make the noodles: Add enough additional warm water to the pot to cook the noodles in. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then add the rice noodles and cook until tender, about 30 seconds.
  6. Using tongs, divide the noodles between 4 soup bowls. Divide the broth between the bowls to cover the noodles. Garnish with mint.
  7. Serve with the chopped and ground pork, black vinegar, chile oil, chile paste, mint, garlic chives, pickled mustard greens, pickled chiles, scallions, sesame seeds, salt, and MSG for topping.