Vietnamese Style Pepper Beef and Spinach

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“Or, "Rau Muong Xao Voi Thit Bo." In Vietnam, the spinach used would be "rau muong" or "water spinach." Here in the states, though, I've made it with sautéed beef and regular spinach (although if you can find actual rau muong, that much the better). Delicious! This recipe is adapted from the "Rau Muong Xao" recipe available here on Zaar (you can read my review, there) and throughout the internet. :)”

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 6 -8 ounces beef or 6 -8 ounces buffalo rump roast
  • 1 12 cups chopped sweet yellow onions
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce, divided (nuoc mam or nam pla)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or 2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves, cleaned and dried (about 4 cups worth; or "rau muong" instead of spinach)
  • 3 ripe roma tomatoes, sliced into thin wedges
  • hot cooked jasmine rice, for serving


  1. Trim excess fat from meat and slice thinly (which is easier when meat is slightly frozen) against the grain.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the chopped onion, sliced meat, 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper, 2 teaspoons of the fish sauce, and the cornstarch; stir well to coat and set aside to marinate (the cornstarch tenderizes and makes the meat "velvety").
  3. Over high temperature, heat a large skillet or wok and - when the skillet is very hot - add the oil ("hot wok, cold oil, food won't stick"); add the marinated meat mixture and sauté until the meat is cooked, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Remove cooked mixture from skillet and set aside.
  5. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the pan and stir fry the minced garlic for 1 minute.
  6. Add spinach leaves and stir fry for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  7. Add remaining 4 teaspoons fish sauce and tomato, and stir fry 2 minutes.
  8. Add the cooked meat mixture and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper to the skillet, combine well, and cook until heated through and sauce comes to desired consistency (the cornstarch will effect the consistency - you can add a bit of water, broth, or sherry if it becomes thicker than you'd like).
  9. Serve immediately with hot cooked jasmine rice.
  10. Note: I've been told that "the recipe is not exactly Vietnamese, since we actually use minced pork to stir fry water spinach; beef is always more expensive than pork at home - the good cuts are often on their own, or cooked with minimal side ingredients; other cuts go into stews and soups" so feel free to try this with pork, too!
  11. Also, when I first made this recipe I really wasn't expecting too much from it - it came out much tastier than I expected, an absolute keeper (especially according to my husband)!

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