Tuesday, October 28, 2008

KangKung Belacan

This is my favourite vegetable since young. KangKung or KangKong is also known as Water Spinach or Water Convolvulus in the Western world. Water convolvulus is a member of the Convolvulaceae (morningglory) family. Ah ha....Infact in Malaysia I usually called it "morning glory" when ordering in a bit upscale Chinese restaurants (the ones where the waiters don't speak Chinese). I remember my brother used to laughed at me for calling it "morning glory". His rationale, how can a cheap vegetable like KangKung have such a beautiful name. :)

Yup I always remember that this is a cheap vegetable as told by my grandma. This is because it can grow very easily in swamp areas as it grows fast when in contact with moist soil or water. Therefore to the older folks, this is a "longkang" (drain) vegetable meaning you can easily see it growing beside the drains.

Another myth that they used to scare me with is that if I ate too much KangKung, I will get arthritis on my legs. It is because the vegetable is a water plant and the stems are soaked in water all the time. It will also transfer to human legs causing arthritis. Any truth in this myth? I don't know but trust me, after eating too much KangKung when young, I did feel pain in my legs. Let me know if this is a fact or just a myth. :)

Other names. Kankon (Japanese); ung choi (Cantonese Chinese); toongsin tsai (Mandarin Chinese); ong choy, ungtsai, tung choy (China); kang kong (Filipino, Malaysian); kang kung, rau muong (Vietnamese); pak bung (Thai).

How to prepare? This dish can be easily stir-fried plain with garlic but it is most famous as KangKung Sambal Belacan whereby you use dried chilli prawn paste. I cook variations of this vegetable using actual "belacan" or just ready made sambal belacan or just plain with garlic.

Simple Ingredients :-

2 tbsp oil
1 red chilli,
500g kangkung
2 cloves of garlic, chopped

Seasoning -
2 tbsp belacan sambal (readily available in canned bottles at Chinese Supermarkets)
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sugar and salt

Simple Steps -

1. Heat up oil, sautè garlic until fragrant. Add in sambal belacan and stir-fry until aromatic.

2. Add in red chillis, kangkung and stir-fry at high heat until well mixed. Dish up.


Jo said...

This is my favourite dish! My folks used to say that it causes leg aches too, but I don't experience it, yet.

mysimplefood said...

Hi Jo, I guess it is like an old wife's tale passed down from parents.... hope it is not true!

Peppercorn Press said...

I'm a veggie lover, and this dish makes my mouth water. I grew with a traditional American menu.... fried chicken, potatoes, etc. Most of the time I was fine with dinner, but never felt quite satisfied. When I finally left the nest and moved to the big city, I discovered a whole world of vegetables and cuisine that I had never knew I was missing. Something about a great veggie dish, especially prepared Chinese style, makes me fully content. Although I am still a meat eater, I feel like I must have been a vegetarian in my last life.... Well, maybe I was Chinese. =)

mysimplefood said...

Hi Peppercorn press - I know what you are saying. I love vege prepared Chinese style. It is so easy, fast and yet it has such aromatic taste. Remember that vege itself has its own sweetness and it is a matter of bringing that out. I love Chinese style vege. If you visit Malaysia or HK, China - you will get to eat Asian vege cooked in so many different styles!!!!

ChrystalStickers said...

Regarding the arthritic myth: Kangkung is high in uric acid which worsens gout. That's where the story comes from. However, you have to have underlying gout for the knee aches to appear.
If you don't then you're free to enjoy all the kangkung you want :D

P.S. The Chinese have the ultimate best ways to prepare vegetables *num num*

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