Ko Long Phnom – Cow Climb Mountain

Here’s a dish that I’ve had a few times eating out. This is the first time it was made in my kitchen by a friend. It’s amazing how different it is from my own style of cooking. The only work making this dish is preparing the vegetables and cutting the meat. The cooking time is minimal and the way it’s cooked and ate in little bits is just perfect for a leisurely late afternoon lunch drinking beer and eating this wonderful and very easy Khmer dish! Compared to my often hours of cooking time after the preparation this is a welcome change!!

Now about the name – Here’s the cooking grill needed to make the dish originally – See last picture below. That’s the ‘mountain’ and obviously the cow climbs it because on the raised bit goes the beef (or any other cuts of meat, fish or seafood for that matter). The veggies go in the side where there’s water and as a soup with noodles. The meat and veggies are cooked with a big paraffin lamp or butane gas flame under the grill.  I don’t own one so we just used a wok and my portable gas cooker. Worked just as well.

onions, green bell pepper, carrot, limes

The beef is cut super thin and in small triangular shapes!

beef cut thin

bean curd

The bean curd we used. It’s very soft marinated tofu in a jar.

bean curd

bean curd cream

Ajinomoto MSG

The MSG. They call it Ajinomoto here. I love the way they pronounce it here. Just say it very fast:-)


The margarine we used

chopped chilli

water spinach

Water spinach

water spinach

The bottom part of the stem is removed about an inch including the root. The leaves are also plucked off fro this dish and discarded!

preparing water spinach

water spinach leaves

chinese cabbage

They often don’t use chopping boards here. Just freestyle with a knife and into a bowl sitting on the floor. Very relaxed way to prepare veggies!!



….And give them veggies a good shower before cooking!!

washing vegetables

ꉻ      ꉻ      ꉻ

Koh Long Pnom (Cow Climb Mountain)


1kg beef (saich koh) without bones and little fat cut into thin triangular strips (can a strip be triangular? I guess not!) and rubbed with salt and pinch MSG

1 chinese cabbage (spee bokoo) each leaf cut into 1/8 triangular (sort of) in shape

1 carrot (karrot) cut into half moons

½ kg water spinach (thu’ koun) leaves plucked (discarded or used for salad) and only stem parts cut into 2 inch pieces

½ of 1 green bell pepper (mateh plau) cut onto 1 inch pieces

6 Thai red chillies chopped fine

pinch of Mono Sodium Glutamate (optional)

vegetable oil or margarine or butter


Tofu Sauce

1 jar bean curd creamed with a fork

100ml full fat milk or soya milk

juice from 2-3 limes

3 teaspoons sugar

1 Thai red chilli chopped fine


1. To make the tofu sauce squash the tofu with a fork in a bowl. Add milk, lime juice, sugar and chopped chilli. Mix thoroughly. The sauce should be creamy and not too watery. If too thick just add a bit more milk/soya milk. Taste and adjust with more lime juice, sugar or salt as necessary. The bean curd used here was salty already so we didn’t add any more.

2. Ideally you need a portable camping cooker for this dish. Because it’s placed in the middle and the vegetable oil/margarine or butter is heated in the wok and a handful of the vegetables are thrown in. After a minute 2-3 minutes the vegetables are pushed around the edges with a wooden spoon and the gap in the middle is where a small amount of  beef goes in. It is cooked for a minute or 2-depending how raw you like your meat you can take it out earlier or a minute or 2 later.

3. Everyone helps themselves with small portions as the veggies and meat are done. Then more veggies and beef is put in the wok. You can serve with steamed rice or rice noodles. We didn’t, we had beer and winter melon juice as accompaniment. 🙂

4. The filling of the wok and emptying of the wok is a ritual in itself. A very Khmer style of eating in a very leisurely manner. I love it!! 🙂 🙂 🙂


1. I would prefer to make this with vegetable oil if I cooked this dish. I’m not a fan of cooking with butter (although I love it on fresh bread). I don’t like the smell of heated butter and of course it’s sooo unhealthy for you! We used margarine (which I’ll only eat if i’m starving and there’s nothing else to put on the bread). No I’m no user of margarine and never buy it for myself.

2. In the tofu sauce traditionally milk is used. I couldn’t eat the tofu sauce as I have mild lactose intolerance. But it’s easy to substitute with soya milk or rice drink.

beef and vegetables in wok

Above: My beloved portable cooker that I normally never move from my kitchen worktop. When this dish was cooked I was reminded that my cooker IS portable 🙂 and I could take it anywhere with me and heat up food-on a bus, train or even in the park?? 😉 🙂

Below: And what the real thing looks like. The meat and fish goes on the top whilst noodles and veggies in the sauce around the edges. And of course a lump of pig fat to moisten the meat/fish so as not to stick.

Khmer Grill

The above picture is from these 2 wonderful food bloggers: Sushi Bytes that I’ve just discovered!

Categories: Beef, Cambodia, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Ko Long Phnom – Cow Climb Mountain

  1. Did you really put the Ajinomoto in? I hope not…lol…That is the easiest way to get in touch with your Asian root. Too bad I’m very sensitive to it these days. I use to have a nanny who put a spoon full of Ajinomoto in her papaya salad (Som Tam) with fish sauce and I thought, it’s the most delicious SomTam ever…haha…

    • I don’t normally cook with it but my partner insists on a tiny amount when she cooks Cambodian dishes. Delicious! 🙂

  2. Chad Shiffer

    Could you PLEASE tell me what the dish is called that you cook the beef on (with the vegetables surrounding)??? I’ve visited Cambodia three times and absolutely love this meal. Would like to make it at home, but I can’t find that dish anywhere!

    • I’m not sure what the dish is called in English. I’ve just done a literal translation. It’s pretty easy to make and the ingredients should be available in most places.

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