This Cambodian climbing wattle frittata recipe for pong moan chien saom – or sa’om or sa-om, which is climbing wattle – makes a popular market snack that’s also cooked at home. Made with duck eggs (pong tia) or chicken eggs (pong moan), it’s typically translated into English as ‘climbing wattle cake’ though it’s definitely in the frittata family and it’s absolutely delicious.
Our recipe for Cambodian climbing wattle frittata makes a much-loved market snack called pong moan chien saom in Khmer if made with chicken egg – ‘pong’ is egg and ‘moan’ is chicken – or pong tia chien saom if made with duck egg or pong tia. Saom or sa’om or sa-om are the feathery shoots of senegalia pennata, which is also called acacia pennata, or ‘acacia leaf’ here in Cambodia, but is more commonly known as climbing wattle.
In neighbouring Thailand, where they also make this herbaceous eggy snack, sa’om is called cha-om, and in Myanmar it’s named su pout ywet. Foraged and farmed, it’s a much-loved ingredient. You can read more about this fragrant full-flavoured garlicky herb in this Cambodian sa’om omelette recipe post.
While sa’om is usually translated into English as ‘climbing wattle cake’ or ‘acacia leaf cake’ in Cambodia, pong moan chien saom is more of a frittata slice as far as I’m concerned. If you’re a lover of frittatas, herb omelettes, and garlicky herbs, then you’re going to love this Cambodian climbing wattle frittata.
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Now let me tell you about this Cambodian climbing wattle frittata recipe for pong moan chien saom.
Cambodian Climbing Wattle Frittata Recipe for Pong Moan Chien Saom
If you know me, you know that I’m almost as crazy about Cambodia’s sa’om as I am about dill, the intensely aromatic herb that’s so ubiquitous in the Russian cooking of my ancestry. While these feathery herbs taste quite different to each other, what they have in common is that they’re so divisive. People seem to either love them or hate them. I’m obviously an adoring fan.
I tend to use sa’om as I would dill, with eggs – such as this sa’om omelette in the French-style; Cambodians prefer to make a thinner crispier omelette – and in soups. Cambodians also use sa’om in soups, stir-fries and curries. As a traveller to Cambodia, you’re most likely to see sa’om cakes or climbing wattle frittata sold at local markets.
Look our for a mobile vendor carrying a tray laden with snacks balanced on her head or carrying two baskets that hang from a pole she carries across her shoulders. The baskets will typically hold a variety of snacks, such as various types of dried fish, fried treats, boiled eggs, relishes, and sa’om cakes.
I only have a few tips to making this Cambodian climbing wattle frittata recipe for pong moan chien sa’om as it’s super easy.
Tips to Making this Cambodian Climbing Wattle Frittata Recipe
Just a few quick tips to making this Cambodian climbing wattle frittata recipe for pong moan chien sa’om as it really is a cinch. Outside Southeast Asia, look for sa’om or climbing wattle at your specialist Asian grocers, market or supermarket. If they don’t sell it fresh, it may be in the freezer section.
I’ve used chicken eggs, but by all means use duck eggs, which are more popular here in Cambodia for sa’om cakes, I just find them very rich.
You can use any small fry pan to make your climbing wattle frittata but I find our little tamagoyaki Japanese omelette pan is just perfect for this job. If you’re using a small fry pan, then you will probably use the entire mixture at once, just as you would if you were making a frittata, whereas I split it in half and do it in two batches.
Once the sa’om cake is done, I recommend running a fish slice around the edge of the climbing wattle frittata to make sure it hasn’t stuck to the sides. A spatula might be too thick, while a knife might scratch your pan, but try them if you don’t own a fish slice.
Cambodians traditionally dip their sa’om cake into fish sauce. We use Cambodian fish sauce with Cambodian dishes, however, outside the country we recommend Megachef Thai fish sauce as it has the most consistent salinity levels of the Thai brands. Our homemade Sriracha sauce also goes well with this Cambodian climbing wattle frittata.
Cambodian Climbing Wattle Frittata Recipe for Pong Moan Chien Saom
- 120 g climbing wattle or sa’om
- 7 chicken eggs or 6 duck eggs
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil
- Wash and dry the climbing wattle or sa’om, then, over a mixing bowl, remove the feathery leaves from the stalks by holding the tip of the stalk between your thumb and finger and running the fingers of the other hand down the stalk, taking care not to prick yourself on the tiny thorns.
- Crack the eggs into a separate bowl, then beat the eggs with a fork until well-combined, and pour the beaten eggs into the mixing bowl with the sa’om, thoroughly combining it all.
- Heat a tablespoon of neutral cooking oil into a Japanese tamago pan, which is perfect for this job, then transfer half the egg and climbing wattle mixture into the pan, and cook on medium heat as you would a frittata.
- Once the egg mixture has started to firm up, use a spatula to press down on it to squeeze out the eggy juices, and lift and tilt the pan.
- When the edges of your climbing wattle frittata have come away from the pan and the top has cooked, it’s ready. If the edges have started to brown, and the top is not yet cooked, best to take it off the heat and finish it under a grill.
- Once done, carefully run a fish slice, knife or spatula around the edge of the frittata to ensure it isn’t sticking to the sides, slide it out of the the pan and onto a cutting board, and repeat with the remaining mixture.
- Slice the frittata into thirds and then halves to get 8 small cakes per frittata, and serve with fish sauce and steamed rice.
Please do let us know if you make this Cambodian climbing wattle frittata recipe for pong moan chien saom as we’d love to hear how it turns out for you.