This curry beef pie recipe made with Cambodian Saraman curry takes a classic Cambodian curry and marries it to the iconic Australian meat pie, Australia’s favourite savoury pastry. Given that some of the most popular pies in Australia are made with chunky beef and gravy, the texture of Cambodia’s richest curry is perfectly suited to making this spicy meat pie.
So why am I making Aussie meat pies and sausage rolls here in our Siem Reap kitchen and posting a curry beef pie recipe made with Cambodian Saraman curry just a few days after sharing a homemade curried sausage roll recipe? I guess our decision to stay in Cambodia during the coronavirus pandemic has made us homesick for Australia and Australian food.
Australia’s iconic meat pies and sausage rolls are the classic quick takeaway meal from the local bakery, supermarket, service station, or pub. On our last trip around Australia researching travel guidebooks they were a staple and Lara and I would look forward to our fuel stops.
We’d pull into a service station to refuel and grab a couple of pies and sausage rolls and go and park in a rest area, which typically overlooked either stunning native bushland, striking desert landscapes or spectacular white-sand beaches. We’d pour cups of tea from the thermos and split open the little take-away packets of tomato sauce to slather on top of our meat pies and we’d be in heaven.
So while Lara and I are getting nostalgic about Aussie meat pies and missing home terribly, I still want to experiment a little and cook with the wonderful spices of our current home, Cambodia, hence this culinary marriage between the iconic Australian meat pie and Cambodia’s rich Saraman curry, our favourite Cambodian curry.
Update: since posting this, we’ve added recipes for a spicy pork minced pie filled with prahok k’tis, a rich pork mince, prahok, coconut cream, and pea eggplant dip; a curried chicken pie recipe based on the gently-spiced Cambodian chicken curry; and sausage rolls with eggplant and pork inspired by the Cambodian char-grilled eggplant and minced pork. And of course there’s our homemade Aussie sausage rolls adapted from a recipe by our friend Jane Lawson from her wonderful nostalgic cookbook Milkbar Memories.
Curry Beef Pie Recipe Made With Cambodian Saraman Curry
The Cambodian Saraman curry is the richest and most complex of Cambodian curries and one of the few that uses beef as the base protein in a country that loves its pork, chicken, fish and seafood. The reason for that is that the Saraman curry is a Cambodian Muslim dish, which was traditionally made with goat.
While many Cambodian curries have quite ‘loose’ and thin sauces, the best Saraman Curries are akin to a great Thai Massaman curry or even a Beef Rendang, where the meat has been cooked for so long that it has absorbed most of the sauce and is packed with flavour.
I’m a big fan of a chunky meat pie where the beef has been cooked to ‘pull-apart’ texture, still moist with gravy, but tender from the long cooking time. In Australia, these sorts of meat pies tend to be made at specialist local bakeries, long renowned for their award-winning meat pies. A sign of a good bakery: they often sell out of their pies by mid-morning, especially on weekends.
The big Australian meat pie brands (and each Australian state tends to have their own) can make okay tasting pies but they usually need to be topped with tomato sauce to give them more flavour. But a good old-fashioned chunky beef meat pie made from a great bakery doesn’t really need it.
Tips for Making this Curry Beef Pie Recipe
In my recipe testing for this curry beef pie recipe made with Cambodian Saraman curry, I found it best to cook out the Saraman curry until it had almost run out of sauce. I can’t stress enough that a Saraman curry where you can mop up the sauce is not right for this recipe. A filling this loose will almost definitely leak through the pastry or bubble up through the little incision you make in the pie lid to let off steam – like an active volcano.
Secondly, when you’re making the filling for a chunky meat pie it has to cool and be refrigerated. I suggest that when making this curry beef pie recipe with Cambodian Saraman curry that you leave it in the fridge for at least 24 hours. Also because, like with most curries, it tastes better the next day. I refrigerated the last batch I made for 48 hours and it was amazing.
Lastly, if you’re working in hot and humid conditions, you will probably find it hard to handle the pastry, both the shortcrust pastry for the base of the curry meat pie and the puff pastry for the lid of your meat pie. I know this personally from living and cooking in Southeast Asia for the last nine years. Intense conditions you need to work fast.
Unless you’re a confident baker, things will get very ‘droopy’ very quickly. Our air conditioning in the main living area and kitchen is absolutely terrible (it’s not unusual for it to get to 38˚C), so I put together the pastry items for this curry meat pie recipe in my office after blasting the air conditioning until the room temperature got down to around 20˚C.
Tips to Making the Saraman Curry
For this curry beef pie recipe made with Cambodian Saraman curry, you first need to make this Saraman Curry recipe as per the recipe instructions, with only the following few changes:
- There’s no coconut milk, just the 250 ml of coconut cream.
- Use 600 gm of beef fillet instead of 500 gm and cut the beef into 2.5 cm cubes.
- Cook the Saraman beef curry out until there is virtually no liquid left.
Curry Beef Pie Recipe Made With Cambodian Saraman Curry
- 4 individual pie tins, 12cm at the top, 8cm at the bottom and 3.5 cm deep
- 150 gr Saraman Curry (Cari Saramann) Paste
- 250 ml coconut cream
- 600 gr beef fillet cut into 2 1/2 cm cubes
- 60 gr peanuts roasted, unsalted
- 1 tbsp palm sugar
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp tamarind water
- 2 sheets shortcrust pastry frozen (25.5 cm square)
- 1 sheet puff pastry frozen (25.5 cm square)
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- Make the Saraman Curry as per the instructions here and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
- When you’re ready to make the pies, remove the shortcrust pastry from the freezer and allow to thaw a little.
- Using a pastry cutter, cut 4, 14 cm rounds. Lightly grease the pie tins and place the shortcrust pastry into the tins, working away from the centre. You should have around 1 cm of pastry hanging over the edges. Refrigerate the pie tins for at least two hours to firm up the pastry.
- After two hours, remove the puff pastry from the freezer and allow to thaw a little.
- Remove the pie tins from the fridge and fill each pie tin with the Saraman Curry. Baste the overhanging pastry with the beaten egg.
- Cut the puff pastry sheets into 12.5 cm rounds and place each on top of each pie tin. Fold the shortcrust pastry over the puff pastry and seal all around. You can use the back of a fork and go around the top to ensure the seal is good.
- Make a small incision in the centre of each pie to form an air vent. Brush the top of the pie with more beaten egg, being careful to not cover the air vent. Place the pies back in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200˚C with a baking tray on the centre rack.
- When ready remove the pies from fridge and place on the baking tray. Cook for 10-12 minutes at which time the top should be lightly golden.
- Reduce the heat to 180˚C and cook for another 10 minutes to ensure the centre of the pie is hot. If the tops of the pies start to look too golden brown, you can place a sheet of aluminium foil on top of the pies.
- When done, allow to cool slightly before eating.
Do let us know if you make this curry beef pie recipe made with Cambodian Saraman curry as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.