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Sambal Kangkong 马来风光

Stir-fried Sambal Kangkong recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

Lenggang lenggang kangkung 
Kangkung tepi telaga 
Lenggang lenggang kangkung 
Kangkung tepi telaga 

You are meandering with the river, strolling along its bank.  A gentle breeze lifts your spirits and sways the leaves of the kangkong plants that float peacefully at the river’s edge. 

Balik dari menyabung 
Makanlah nasi sahaja 
Balik dari menyabung 
Makanlah nasi sahaja 

A song of village life; of a river that flows calmly in its own wandering way; of a leafy plant that grows wild in the water, softly guided by the wind and by the current.

A folk song we learn in school in Malaysia and Indonesia about the meaning of a much loved vegetable – kangkong.

water spinach or chinese spinach or kangkung

Known as kangkong throughout Southeast Asia, the leafy vegetable may go by a myriad of other names such as water spinach, river spinach, water convolvulus, Chinese spinach or water morning glory.

kangkung leaves

The thin, hollow stems and succulent leaves of the kangkong plant make it a popular choice for a healthy green on dinner tables through the region.  The young, fresh leaves and stems have a mild nutty flavor.  Sweet even.  And when cooked for just a flash on high fire, the veggie retains its vibrant green color and refreshing crunch.

Stir-fried Sambal Kangkong 马来风光  recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

The abundance of kangkong in Southeast Asia has made it a favorite veggie for cooks to toss into curries with coconut milk, or into soups like Penang Hokkien Mee (prawn noodles), or into the fryer like crispy kangkong in the Philippines, or the most likely choice, into the wok to be stir-fried with garlic and chili peppers.

In Malaysia, kangkong is matched with sambal belacan, and stir-fried into a famous dish called Sambal Kangkong.

sambal belacan for stir fry kangkong with spices

Sambal kangkong – a dish so admired by the Malaysian-Chinese community that they refer to it as “The Beauty of Malay Scenery” 马来风光.  The spicy, pungent dish is a staple at Chinese and Malay restaurants in Malaysia.  And if a home cook doesn’t mind smelling up the kitchen with fermented shrimp paste (belacan), sambal kangkong is a common dish at home too.

Stir-fried Sambal Kangkong recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

Malaysian sambal kangkong is just one way to fire up this delectable green.  Here are two other Southeast Asian kangkong recipes to try:

Plecing Kangkung by Cooking Tackle
indonesian kangkung recipe

Adobong Kangkong (Water Spinach Adobo) by Wok with Ray
filipino recipe abodong kangkung water spinach

Sambal Kangkong by Season with Spice 

Ingredients: 
350g kangkong (water spinach) – soft stems cut in 3-inch pieces and leaves kept whole. Discard any hard stems.
2 tbsp oil 2 cloves garlic – minced
Half a red onion – sliced roughly (optional)
2 tbsp sambal belacan
2 tsp sugar
1-2 tbsp water
Slices of red chili peppers for garnish (serrano chili)
A squeeze of calamansi lime juice (or other lime)

Optional 
Additions:
A) 2 tsp dried shrimps, soaked in water for 10 minutes
B) 5-6 fresh medium prawns – deveined and shelled

Method:
1. Heat oil in a wok on medium-high fire. Add in garlic and onion, and stir-fry over medium heat until fragrant, about half a minute. Add in sambal belacan and sugar, and stir-fry for another minute.
2. Add in kangkong, stems first. Stir-fry for a few seconds, then add in the leafy parts. Over high heat, stir-fry quickly to make sure all the greens are in contact with the heat. Add in  water for some gravy. To retain its fresh look and crunch, you want to work the spatula quick and cook the greens not more than two minutes. As soon as the leaves turn just wilted, turn heat off and dish out quickly.
3. Squeeze in some lime juice and garnish with red chili peppers.

Notes: 
- Cooking with dried shrimp or fresh prawns is another common way of enjoying sambal kangkong. If you like adding dried shrimp, you can pound/ blend dried shrimp finely together with sambal belacan and follow the steps above to cook.  For fresh prawns, just add in the prawns after Step 1 and cook for a couple of minutes until the prawns turn opaque (90% done) before you add in the kangkong.
- An excellent tip which I learned from my mom is to bath the kangkong in ice water before cooking. This will keep the kangkong nicely crisp.

14 comments:

Arudhi@Aboxifkitchen said...

OMG, I miss kangkung sooo much! I can easily overeat with the sambal kangkung.
Kangkung is only available here during summer and unbelievably expensive. The Chinese name you put there reminds me of the Japanese version: 空芯菜 (vegetable with hollowed core, hopefully I interpret it right) and this name really sticks on my mind as that`s what kangkung is.
Thank you for sharing this wonderful treat!

Anthony@fooodaffairvietnam said...

Love it, kangkong is one of my favorite vegetable. Coupled with sambal, I'm sure it's incredibly delicious. Looking at the photos is making me hungry. Have to try this on the weekend, thanks Reese

Wok with Ray said...

Thank you for featuring the adobong kangkong, Reese! Your sambal kangkong is making me hungry imagining the crunchy bite on the kangkong stems. Beautiful photos especially the fresh kangkong.

Ira Rodrigues said...

Thank you for featuring Indonesian plecing kangkung Reese. drooling over your sambal!

Rosa May said...

Very appetizing! I think that we can find that vegetable here (in Asian supermarkets)... Will have to see.

Cheers,

Rosa

mjskit said...

What a delicious looking delicious! I'm going to have to hunt out kangkong here. I saw it over at Ray's and now here and it's gorgeous and looks like it makes a very tasty and healthy dish! Beautiful pictures!

Season with Spice said...

You've got it exactly right, Arudhi. The Chinese name for kangkong is also written in the similar way - 空心菜. Suppose Japanese borrowed that from the Chinese character. I like the literal translation - empty heart:) I can imagine how expensive it is in Japan! It must be a real treat for you when summer comes.

Season with Spice said...

It's Mark's favorite too. He says he is going to hunt it down when we move back to the US.

Season with Spice said...

I know your adobong style kangkong is going to be a hit with some pork lovers. So gotta introduce it:)

Season with Spice said...

I liked that you add tomatoes in the sambal. Another fantastic version!

Season with Spice said...

Thanks for commenting, mjskit:) I would do the same to hunt down kangkong too if I lived outside of Southeast Asia. So wishing you success in your search. The vegetable is high in nutrients and iron too. Of course, we should not overeat it, but it's hard to resist.

Season with Spice said...

That would be wonderful. It's really one of the most popular vegetables in the region here. We can go crazy about it.

Nami said...

Love water spinach!!! I didn't know about this vegetable until my husband introduce it to me. Looks delicious!

Season with Spice said...

Mark fell in love for the vegetable instantly when I first introduced it to him. Now he just can't have enough of them!

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