Cambodian Breakfast: Kuy Teav Recipe - Beef Noodle Soup

As with much of Asia, the Cambodian breakfast usually includes rice or noodles. And kuy teav – a steaming bowl of broth filled with noodles, beef and aromatic herbs – is one of the most popular. Our kuy teav recipe uses oxtail to create a lightly gelatinous broth with plenty of flavour.

Beansprouts and fine vermicelli noodles nestle in the base of your bowl, hidden by layers of crispy garlic, Sriracha-seared minced beef, tender oxtail, lime and fresh herbs. All enveloped by the sweet star-anise-spiced oxtail broth.

The original kuy teav recipe is hotly debated. Was it the precursor to Vietnamese Pho? Are they in fact the same? And should it be made from beef or from pork? The only real consensus is that the two soups certainly different: the Cambodian broth is perhaps a little sweeter, but in what other ways, no one seems clear.

If you plan to serve this kuy teav recipe for breakfast – though it is certainly worth making at any time of day – prepare the broth the day before and chill before refrigerating overnight to reheat the next morning. We’ve also heard success of leaving the stock to infuse in step 2 below in a slow cooker overnight, instead of using a stock pot or pressure cooker.

Perhaps it goes without saying, but read through the recipe before you start. It easy to prepare the garnishes whilst the broth simmers. Then just refrigerate everything in small containers, until you are ready to assemble the dish at the last minute. Even the vermicelli noodles can relax in their soaking water in the fridge for 24 hours or more - handy if you want to serve the soup two days in a row. And make sure to serve in a very large bowl!

 The stock Serves: 4

To garnish

At the table


  1. First remove any blood or scum from the bones. Place oxtail in a large stock pot or pressure cooker with plenty of cold water and bring to the boil. Remove from heat, drain, rinse the pot, and using cold water, wash away any scum from the bones.
  2. Return the cleaned bones to the pot, and add the 2l water, onion, star anise, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, cassia, sugar, salt and fish sauce. If using a pressure cooker, bring to the boil and cook at pressure for 1 hour. If using a saucepan or stock pot, bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 3 hours. You may need to top up the water as it evaporates.
  3. Once the broth is ready, strain into a clean pan, and set aside the oxtail bones to cool. When the bones are cool enough to handle, with your fingers, pull away the oxtail meat from the bones and reserve.

For the garnish

  1. Fry the beef mince in 2 tbsp of the vegetable oil together with the fish sauce, sugar, sriracha and lime juice until cooked.
  2. Heat the remaining 4 tbsp of vegetable oil in a separate pan with the sliced garlic, and fry until crisp and browned at the edges. Drain.

To serve

  1. To serve, bring the reserved broth to the boil. Place a quarter of the noodles and beansprouts in the base of each bowl. Top with the beef mince, cooked oxtail, and preserved mustard greens. Ladle over the broth and sprinkle over the sliced garlic, spring onions, and chopped coriander.
  2. At the table add extra seasoning to your own soup, with limes, hoisin sauce for sweetness, fish sauce to add saltiness, or Sriracha for an extra kick.


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