Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Ever Wondered About Kangkung? - Kangkung Blachan/Belacan (Stir-fried Water Spinach With Chilli and Shrimp Paste)

What is Kangkung? This is the response I tends to get when I talk about my favourite greens. Not entirely surprising considering this vegetable is rather underrated and underused outside of Asia. But I do seriously believe that for those who has never come across this crisp, crunchy green vegetables are truly missing out.

Kangkung (or sometimes spelt as Kangkong) is known to the western world as water spinach, water convolvulus or morning glory. We called it  kōng xīng cài, which literally means hollow vegetable in Chinese. It is a semi aquatic vegetable and is incredibly easy to grow, hence the popularity within Asia amongst the Chinese, Malay, Thai etc. Some of my favourite  hawker dishes such as Prawn noodles soup and Rojak, uses this as a topping or ingredient which contribute a refreshing crunch to the otherwise, deep, rich flavours.

One of my favourite way of cooking this vegetable is to stir fry them gently in a punchy belacan sambal. This is incredibly simple and easy while the end result is a wonderfully satisfying crunchy dish, enveloped with gutsy, full flavoured sauce. Along with the spicy kick from the chilli, this is just so, so tasty!

If you were to ever come across this delicious vegetables in the shop, you must give this a go.

(Serves 2-3)

300g kangkung (water spinach/water convolvulus), washed
1 tbsp blachan/belachan (shrimp paste), toasted in a dry pan
2 tbsp dried shrimps
3 cloves garlic
4 fresh red chillies
2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
100ml water


Cut the kangkung into 2.5 cm lengths. 
Soaked the dried shrimps in warm water for 15 minutes to soften. Blitz the shrimp paste, dried shrimps, garlic and chillies in a food processor to a paste.
Heat up the oil in a wok or a large frying pan over medium-high heat until smoking.  Stir-fry the paste for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant.
Add the kangkung and stir-fry for another 2 minutes. Add the water and cook for another minute before transferring to a clean plate and serve immediately with some steam rice.
Kangkung Blachan/Belachan (Stir-fried Water
Spinach With Chilli and Shrimp Paste)


  1. I know this as tung choi (in Cantonese) but regardless of what you call it, I love this veg!

  2. I haven't met a Singaporean who doesn't love sambal kangkung! It's pretty much the only veg my carnviorous brother will agree to ordering when we eat out at a tze char stall. My mum always gets a bit annoyed because it's apparently one of the cheapest vegetables you can get at the market, but it's always so marked up when you eat it outside. 

  3. Me too! I love it :)

  4. Haha! Your brother has good taste in food :) I remember my neighbour's daughter would used to buy a big bunch of kangkung and fed it to her pet tortoise and rabbit simply because they were cheap.

  5. It looks gorgeous - they used to sell this next to where I used to work but I was never sure quite what to do with it.   It sounds really tasty.

  6. In that case , Corina, you have to  give this a go. It's delicious! The sambal sauce is also good for spinach or green beans too if you can't find any kangkung. Thanks for the comment :)



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