From the Pampanga region of the Philippines comes this sour soup with a watermelon twist. For something different, ask your butcher to corn the beef brisket for you. Don’t use silverside, as the beef needs to have some fat for the soup to really shine.






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (51 votes)


  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 kg beef brisket, cut into 5 cm x 2.5 cm pieces
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 1 brown onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 kg seedless watermelon, peeled and cut into 5 cm pieces
  • 3 pieces dried galangal or 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, cut into fine matchsticks
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, finely chopped
  • 2 long green chillies, chopped
  • 100 g tamarind pulp
  • 500 g taro, chopped
  • 150 g snake beans, cut into 7 cm lengths
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce, plus extra to taste
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 180 g (about 12) small okra
  • 1 bunch (400 g) water spinach, cut into 7 cm pieces, soaked in water for 15 minutes, drained
  • steamed rice, to serve
  • fish sauce or bagoong (shrimp paste), 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.


The following recipe has been tested and edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the podcast.

Place a large casserole over medium-high heat. Add the oil and, working in batches, cook the beef until evenly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic and onions to the casserole and cook for 5 minutes, stirring, until the onions are soft. Add the watermelon, galangal and lemongrass, and cook for 5 minutes before returning the beef to the casserole. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Combine the tamarind pulp and 200 ml water in a small saucepan and place over a medium heat. Cook and mash with a potato masher for 1–2 minutes until the tamarind softens and thickens the water. Pass through a coarse strainer and add the liquid to the beef along with the chillies. Cook for a further 1–1½ hours until the beef is almost tender.

Add the taro and cook for 15 minutes until just tender. Add the fish sauce and pepper to taste. Add the beans and okra and cook for 3 minutes, before adding the water spinach and cooking for a further minute until all the vegetables are tender.

Serve with steamed white rice and fish sauce for dipping.


Photography by Alan Benson