Vietnamese Style Pepper Beef and Spinach

Recipe by Julesong
READY IN: 30mins


  • 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


  • Trim excess fat from meat and slice thinly (which is easier when meat is slightly frozen) against the grain.
  • 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").
  • 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.
  • Remove cooked mixture from skillet and set aside.
  • Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the pan and stir fry the minced garlic for 1 minute.
  • Add spinach leaves and stir fry for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add remaining 4 teaspoons fish sauce and tomato, and stir fry 2 minutes.
  • 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).
  • Serve immediately with hot cooked jasmine rice.
  • 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!
  • 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)!