Chinese water spinach, apple eggplants and cabbage are the traditional vegetables used in this Cambodian dish, but you can substitute with cauliflower or broccoli if unavailable.






Skill level

Average: 3.4 (26 votes)


  • 1 bunch Chinese water spinach (ong choy) (see Note), trimmed, cut into 5 cm lengths
  • 6 apple eggplants (see Note), cut into quarters
  • 3 large white cabbage leaves, trimmed, cut into 5 cm squares
  • 1 tbsp pickled mud fish (see Note)
  • 2 tbsp seedless tamarind paste (see Note)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, white part only, chopped
  • 8 kaffir lime leaves, centre veins discarded, thinly shredded
  • 1 cm slice galangal, peeled, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 600 g beef eye fillet, trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp grated palm sugar
  • steamed jasmine rice, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Blanch vegetables separately for 2 minutes or until softened. Drain well and set aside.

Combine pickled mud fish and 150 ml water in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, then cook over low–medium heat for 15 minutes or until fish has broken down. Strain through a fine sieve, pressing firmly on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids and set mud fish liquid aside.

Meanwhile, place 200 ml boiling water in a bowl, add tamarind paste and leave for 20 minutes or until tamarind has softened. Loosen tamarind, then strain through a fine sieve, pressing firmly on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids and set tamarind liquid aside.

Process lemongrass, lime leaves, galangal and garlic in a small food processor to a paste. (You can also do this using a mortar and pestle).

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add lemongrass paste and turmeric, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add 400 ml water, tamarind liquid, mud fish liquid and fish sauce, and bring to a simmer. Add beef, sugar and 2 tsp salt, and cook over low–medium heat, stirring frequently and adding a little more water if necessary to cover beef, for 3 minutes or until beef is almost cooked. Add vegetables and cook for a further 2 minutes or until beef is cooked and vegetables are heated through. Serve with rice.


• Ong choy and apple eggplants are from selected greengrocers and Asian food shops. 
• Pickled mud fish, available from selected Asian food shops, is used in many Cambodian dishes, just as fish sauce and dried shrimp paste are respectively used in Thai and Malaysian cooking. Liep uses Three Trees Gouramy Fish Sauce.
• Tamarind paste is available from selected supermarkets and Asian food shops.



Photography by John Laurie.


As seen in Feast magazine, November 2011, Issue 3. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.