I had this before a wedding during their home-made lunch hour, and it was the most amazing soup I’ve ever had. The key for me is the special beef packet, Oriental Beef Spices (gia vị nấu bò kho), which I’ve found at most Asian supermarkets in my area, the daikon, and freshly boiled rice noodles. Daikon is Japanese radish and my local Fred Meyer carries it, so it’s not as hard to find as I would have expected. The rice noodles absorb the broth if left in the soup in the fridge so I boil them for each round of leftovers I prepare.


  • Half a packet Oriental Beef Spices (gia vị nấu bò kho), 2 Tbsp reserved if you choose to marinate beef
  • 1 small tray of beef stew meat, cubed
  • 4-8 garlic cloves, sliced
  • chopped daikon
  • chopped carrot
  • chopped rutabaga or parsnip (optional)
  • sliced large onion (optional)
  • star anise (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • flat rice noodles
  • 3-4 Tbsp ketchup (or 1 can tomato paste and 1 Tbsp sugar)
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1.5-2L beef broth (I’ve also seen this made with water, a bottle of apple juice, 1 Tbsp of soy sauce, and a bouillon cube)
  • bean sprouts (optional)
  • thai basil (optional)
  • rice noodles (optional)

There are 3 options. You can marinate the beef overnight with some oil, seasoned rice wine vinegar, garlic, and 2 Tbsp of the beef spice packet, and then sear it the next day. Option two is to not marinate and still do the searing. Option three is to forget the marinating and the searing altogether and just throw everything into the slow cooker, easy peasy.

1. Put broth in crock pot and turn on high while you chop your veggies and sear your beef (optional).

2. Sear beef and cloves of chopped garlic.

3. Transfer beef and garlic to crock pot, and add star anise and onions to pan. Deglaze pan with a bit of beef broth and cooking wine (optional), then add to crock pot.

4. Add ketchup, brown sugar, about half the packet of beef spices, vegetables and star anise and bay leaves to crock pot. Switch setting to low to cook for 8-10 hours, or high for 4-6 hours.

5. Remove star anise and bay leaves. Cook rice noodles according to package directions and serve into bowls with soup. Top with Thai basil and bean sprouts (optional).