Green peppercorn beef is a classic, Cambodian, stir fry. It is simple to make, using easy to source ingredients. The dish features green peppercorns and was inspired as a result of our visit to to Kep and nearby Kampot, in southern Cambodia. Green peppercorn beef provides a sublime window into the fabulous world of Cambodian cuisine.
There is surprisingly little known about Cambodian cuisine. Its nearby neighbors, Thailand and Vietnam steal all of its thunder. But if you enjoy Thai or Vietnamese food, then you will certainly enjoy Cambodian food. Like Thai food, in Cambodia there is an emphasis on curries but we found them more mildly spiced than in Thailand.
Pepper, the world’s most popular spice, is a specialty of Kampot, Cambodia. Long considered to be the world’s best source of pepper, we give you the lowdown on traveling to nearby Kep with its laid back, beach-side culture and how to visit the famous, Kampot pepper plantations.
Kep, Southern Cambodia
Kep, Cambodia is located in the extreme south of the country, close to the Vietnamese border. Featuring great beaches, fabulous seaside bars and restaurants Kep is an easy place to relax. And a full range of accommodation from the very basic to the gorgeously luxurious means you can find something for every budget and taste..
If you love seafood, you are in luck. Kep and nearby Kampot are home to a large fishing fleet, so there is always a great supply of freshly cooked seafood, including the much-loved crab. And of course, Kep is nearby to Kampot, world famous for its quality of pepper.
A very popular dish here is Kampot Pepper crab, combining the very best the area has to offer. It is another great eating experience in the world of Cambodian cooking. The pepper in the dish is mild, using fresh green peppercorns.
Apart from lounging around on the beach and eating too much, there are many activities you can undertake in Kep and Kampot.
How about a sunset river cruise on the river in Kampot, featuring seafood, cheese and biscuits and drinks?
Or how about a tour of the abandoned, Bokor Hill Station? Located in the nearby Bokor National Park, it’s a chance to gain some elevation and escape some of the heat of the plains. You can read more about what to do around Kep and Kampot here.
But the star of the show in this region, is to visit a pepper plantation to see what all of the fuss is about.
Kampot pepper is considered the world’s best and prior to the Pol Pot regime, was highly prized by French chefs, as it was renowned for its fruity flavor. Production only resumed in 1996 and now the region is experiencing good growth in this most famous of spices.
There are 4 types of peppercorns grown in the region:
- Black – mature, strong and delicate taste
- White pepper – harvested when the peppercorns turn to yellow or bright red. They are soaked in water for a few days to remove the husk. Develops an “intense bouquet and delicate aroma”. It has a strong spicy taste perfect for soups and creamy dishes.
- Red Pepper – allowed to ripen on the tree. There are only a few peppercorns per bunch. They are very aromatic and fruity.
- Green peppercorns are fresh pepper corns not dried or aged.
With a number of plantations close to Kep and Kampot, you can organize transport at your hotel.
And what is pepper’s best friend? Why salt of course. And by the Vietnamese border, there are salt fields to provide the perfect combination.
You can purchase pepper from the plantations but be aware fresh, green peppercorns are considered “live” plants by many countries. Itcannot be brought in through airport quarantine restrictions.
Green Peppercorn Beef Showcases Kampot Pepper and Cambodian Cuisine
It’s not just pepper and crab famous in this region, green peppercorn beef featuring Kampot pepper is another classic from the region. For this recipe I used dried, green peppercorns. Try and find them from a specialty spice shop, if you can, they are better in this dish than black peppercorns.
This is a stir fry dish, so is quick to cook. If you can allow the beef and pepper to marinate for at least 4 hours, it makes such a big difference to the taste.
I hope you enjoy green peppercorn beef.
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- 1 lb beef, tenderloin (eye fillet) thinly sliced, see note below*
- 2 tbsp tamari (soy) sauce
- 2 tbsp peppercorns, green
- 2 tbsp coconut oil substitute with olive oil
- 1 inch ginger peeled and finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 4 onions small, quartered
- 1 carrot sliced (julienned)
- 6 kaffir lime leaves thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce omit if g-f or paleo
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1/2 bunch cilantro (coriander) rinsed and chopped
- 1 lime
- In a bowl, mix together the thinly sliced beef, tamari and green peppercorns. Refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours.
- Heat a wok (or saute pan) over a medium high heat and add the coconut oil. Add the ginger, garlic, onions and carrots, tossing continuously until the onions are translucent. Add the beef and marinade and the kaffir lime leaves and toss for about 1 minute. Add the oyster sauce and fish sauce and toss for a further 1 minute. Remove from heat.
- Arrange on a serving platter and top with cilantro and lime juice. Serve with steamed rice and bok choy or wrap beef mixture in iceberg lettuce leaves.
* It is easier to thinly slice your beef tenderloin, if you first place in the freezer for for 30 minutes and then slice.
Hey, this looks amazing, but would i be able to use black or white peppercorns?
Compass & Fork
Green peppercorns are “lighter” in taste than black peppercorns but you could try any type you like.
I’d like to make this beef peppercorn recipe for a ladies dinner party of 14, but don’t wasn’t the last minute cooking. Any advice for make-ahead?
Hi Jeanette. Before your guests arrive, marinate the beef, chop all the other ingredients and have your sauces all measured and ready to go. You could proceed up to the point where the beef has been cooked (you may need to cook the beef in batches for that many people) and then remove from the heat. You can also cook your rice beforehand and just re-heat in the microwave. If you are up to this stage before your guests arrive all you will then need to do is to re-heat the beef in your wok or pan adding the fish sauce and oyster sauce.
Don’t forget you can change the number of serves from 4 to 14 and the recipe card will adjust all of the quantities for you.
Where can one buy green pepper in the States? Or what would you suggest as a substitute?
The best place in the States is a specialty spice store if you have one near you. Failing that better supermarkets. You can substitute with black pepper. They are sold in good supermarkets in Australia and the UK. Amazon would sell them also.
I ate this when I was in Cambodia last year and it was delicious! Thanks for the recipe!
Amy, green peppercorns and beef, so delicious. We enjoyed Cambodia and its cuisine.
sue | theviewfromgreatisland
This sounds amazing, my husband and I are both pepper fanatics!
I hope you enjoy it Sue.
Oh how I would love a bite of this right now!! I love that it’s super quick too!!
Cooking quickly is one of the great advantages of stir fry isn’t it?
Marsha | Marsha's Baking Addiction
This looks absolutely delicious!
Marsha, thanks for that. We love the flavors of South East Asian cuisines and Cambodia doesn’t get much love, so happy to write about it.
Ali @ Home & Plate
Yum…this looks delicious. I am a big fan of peppercorns and typically use a blend. But I do have the green in store. I may have to give this recipe a try with what I have. I love a good stirfry.
I hope you enjoy it. Beef and pepper (green) are such a classic combination. The stir fry makes it nice and quick. Thanks for your comment.