This pepper steak pie recipe for a Cambodian beef lok lak meat pie is based on a popular Cambodian street food dish eaten at local eateries, that is a cousin to Vietnam’s loc lac or ‘shaking beef’. It’s next in my series of Cambodian-Australian meat pie and sausage roll recipes.
My pepper steak pie recipe makes a Cambodian beef lok lak meat pie that is inspired by one of Cambodia’s most popular street food-style dishes, served at local eateries around the country. Typically eaten for lunch, but also acceptable for dinner or breakfast, when a fried egg on top of the stir-fried beef is compulsory, lok lak is one of those dishes that is as popular with foreigners as locals. A dish of Cambodian-Chinese origin, it’s a cousin to Vietnam’s loc lac or ‘shaking beef’, whose history is much-debated.
This pepper steak pie recipe made with a Cambodian beef lok lak filling is next in my series of recipes inspired by the iconic meat pies and sausage rolls of our homeland Australia and the dishes of our adopted home of the last seven years, Cambodia, where we’ve been researching the cuisine for an epic Cambodian cookbook and culinary history.
The series of Cambodian-inspired Australian-style meat pies and sausage rolls is one of many cooking projects that have kept us sane and calm in recent months while we’ve been staying at home and quarantine cooking here in Siem Reap.
So far the recipe series has included a spicy pork mince pie based on prahok ktis; a curried chicken pie made with Cambodian chicken curry; a curried beef pie filled with Cambodia’s Saraman curry (a relation to Thailand’s Massaman curry); a Saraman curry sausage roll inspired by the same curry; and a sausage roll with eggplant and pork that tips a hat to this char-grilled eggplant and minced pork dish.
Pepper Steak Pie Recipe for a Cambodian Beef Lok Lak Meat Pie
If you’re a regular reader, I hope that my pepper steak pie recipe for a Cambodian beef lok lak meat pie gets you a little excited. You might recall my beef lok lak recipe for the delicious Cambodian pepper beef dish, made with Kampot pepper, which I presented in a more contemporary style for our series on creative Cambodian canapés.
I created that modern take on the traditional beef lok lak recipe for a New Year’s Eve spread. The presentation of that lok lak may have been contemporary but the pepper steak recipe itself was authentic, based on the popular Cambodian dish that’s served in local eateries as well as in the home. So what is Cambodian lok lak?
Cambodia’s lok lak typically consists of chopped beef steak stir-fried in a wok or pan with onion, garlic, soy sauce, sugar, pepper, and salt. Although these days many Cambodian cooking class instructors and chefs will also add tomato sauce and chicken stock powder, which isn’t really needed. There’s plenty of flavour in there already.
We’re told that lok lak was traditionally served on a bed of crunchy green tomatoes, which provide the perfect contrast and balance to the peppery beef, although these days cooks might use red tomatoes or a salad of lettuce, tomato and onion. The beef might be served on its own or on a mound of steamed rice.
A soft fried egg on top might be the norm at some eateries, optional at others. Also optional is a side of French fries. Ever-present is a dipping ‘sauce’ of pepper, salt and lime that you make yourself in a separate dish. Some locals will pour this on top and combine it with their pepper steak, while others will dip their pieces of steak into the dish.
This pepper steak pie recipe is authentic in essence, making a very traditional Cambodian beef lok lak that’s been tweaked to serve as a hearty meat pie filling. If you love a pepper steak pie, you are going to love our Cambodian twist on this meat pie favourite.
Notes on Making our Cambodian Beef Lok Lak Meat Pie
Just a couple of notes on my pepper steak pie recipe. As usual, when you’re baking with shortcrust and puff pastry doughs, you want to do it in a cold room. If you’re baking in hot weather as we are here in Siem Reap, you’ll need to turn the A/C down to 20˚C before starting on the pie pastry.
While it’s easy to work with the puff pastry (you’re basically working with a single circle of dough), the shortcrust pastry has to be moulded into the pie tin. Don’t worry if it splits or you need to add more pastry to create the overlap over the edges of the tin. It’s easy to add to or fix the dough, just make sure the final pastry is all the same thickness, around 3mm.
While you can use any pepper you can get your hands on during these challenging times, we highly recommend you use Cambodia’s excellent Kampot Pepper, available online on Amazon if you can’t source it locally.
Pepper Steak Pie Recipe for a Cambodian Beef Lok Lak Meat Pie
- 4 individual pie tins, 12cm at the top, 8cm at the bottom and 3.5 cm deep
- 600 g beef fillet cubed
- 175 ml beef stock
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 2 tbsp black Kampot pepper crushed
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 3 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1½ tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp Chinese rice wine
- 1 tbsp dark soy
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 green tomato sliced
- 4 eggs
- 2 sheets shortcrust pastry frozen 25.5 cm square
- 1 sheet puff pastry frozen 25.5 cm square
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- Combine the beef with the sugar, half of the pepper, the garlic powder, ⅔ of the oyster sauce and light soy sauce, salt and cornstarch. Mix thoroughly and marinate for at least an hour in the fridge.
- After marinating, remove the mixture from the fridge and let it get to room temperature.
- Add the oil to a hot pan, and add the beef mixture. Stir fry until browned. Remove the mixture from the pan and deglaze the pan with the rice wine until reduced.
- Add the stock and the beef again and add the remaining oyster sauce, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce and pepper.
- Cook the mixture out until you have a very thick sauce.
- Cool and refrigerate for at least two hours, preferably overnight.
- Boil the eggs for 4 minutes and shock in a water bath with ice water.
- When they have cooled, peel the eggs and then carefully remove the egg whites from the yolk. The yolk is going in the pie.
- In a pan, brown the tomato slices and leave to cool.
- 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 lok lak, leaving a whole in the centre for the egg yolk. Carefully slide the egg yolk into the pie filling. 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 our pepper steak pie recipe for a Cambodian beef Lok Lak meat pie. We’d love to know how it turns out for you.