• Tamarind broth with beef and water spinach (Luke Nguyen's Food Trail)

This one pot beef stew makes for a comforting winter dinner, and is perfect for the family table. 






Skill level

Average: 1.3 (226 votes)


  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, bruised and cut into 5 cm pieces 
  • 350 g beef sirloin, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce, plus extra to serve
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into thick wedges
  • 80 ml ( cup) tamarind water (see note)
  • ½ bunch water spinach, washed and drained, torn into 4 cm pieces
  • 6 rice paddy herb stalks, chopped
  • 7 saw tooth coriander, chopped
  • 1 tsp fried garlic 
  • 2 bird’s eye chillies, sliced 
  • 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.


Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil and fry the garlic and lemongrass for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the beef and stir for 2 minutes, then remove the beef from the pan and set aside. 

Add 6 cups (1½ litres) water, the fish sauce, sugar and salt to the pan and bring to the boil. Add the tomatoes and simmer for another 3 minutes. Add the tamarind water and water spinach, bring back to the boil, then return the beef to the pan and simmer for another 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. 

Ladle the broth into large serving bowls. Garnish with rice paddy herb, saw tooth herb, fried garlic and half the chilli. 

Serve with jasmine rice, and a small bowl of the remaining sliced chilli and fish sauce for dipping. 



•For tamarind water, soak 100 g tamarind pulp in 400 ml boiling water for 10 minutes. Break it up a little with a whisk, then stand until cool enough to handle. Using your hands, work the mixture into a thick paste. Push the mixture through a sieve and discard the solids. The tamarind water will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


Luke Nguyen's Food Trail airs Thursdays at 8pm on SBS. Visit the program page for recipes, videos and more.