Chef's Recipes

David Thompson's stir-fried Siamese watercress

This watercress recipe refuses to be a side dish, offering fiery flavours with a smoky finish.

By David Thompson
  • 5 mins preparation
  • 5 mins cooking
  • Serves 4 - 6
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David Thompson's stir fried Siamese watercress
"The name of this dish in Thai is 'red flamed'. And that's literally what should happen when the vegetables hit the wok," says Long Chim and Nahm chef David Thompson. "It should flame and fire and imbue this simple dish with a smoky finish."
Pictured with deep-fried squid with garlic and peppercorns.


  • 2 tbsp (about 8 small) Thai garlic cloves,peeled (see note)
  • 320 gm (2 bunches) Siamese watercress (water spinach; see note), trimmed and cut into 4cm lengths
  • 60 ml yellow-bean paste (¼ cup)
  • Large pinch of white sugar
  • 1 long red chilli, bruised
  • 60 ml rice bran oil (¼ cup)
  • Dash of fish sauce, or to taste


  • 1
    Bruise garlic with a pinch of salt with a mortar and pestle, then pound into small pieces, but not to a paste. Transfer to a bowl, add watercress, yellow-bean paste and sugar, toss to combine, and set aside.
  • 2
    Heat a seasoned wok (see note) until very hot. Add chilli and char until blackened (4-6 minutes), then add to watercress.
  • 3
    Heat oil in wok, add watercress mixture and stir-fry vigorously until wilted (20-30 seconds). Add 1 tbsp water and simmer for a moment, stirring to combine. Season with fish sauce and serve.


Thai garlic is smaller and sweeter than other varieties of garlic, and is available from Thai food stores. If it’s unavailable, substitute small garlic cloves. Siamese watercress is available from Thai grocers. To season a new wok, heat over high heat, scrub with salt, rub with oil using a paper towel, and heat until blackened.
Drink Suggestion: A young Braemore sémillon. Drink suggestion by Greg Plowes