|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 3 to 4|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 7g||9%|
|Saturated Fat 1g||3%|
|Total Carbohydrate 12g||4%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||7%|
|Total Sugars 5g|
|Vitamin C 41mg||207%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Kangkung is Ipomoea aquatica, a semiaquatic plant that grows in swamps. It is called kangkong in Tagalog in the Philippines, rau muống in Vietnamese, phak bung in Thai and kangkung in Malaysian and Indonesian. Both the hollow stalks and the leaves are edible although the stalks are tougher and take a bit longer to cook.
Sambal is a generic term for chili-based sauces; there are a lot of varieties, we suggest using sambal oelek (available in the Asian section of most groceries). If you use sambal belacan which is a chili and shrimp paste, you don’t have to add shrimp paste separately, but you’ll probably have to make adjustments to the amounts. You can serve this as a vegetable dish alongside a meat dish. It’s not totally vegetarian because shrimp paste is an ingredient; if you want to transform it into a vegetarian dish, just omit the shrimp paste.
Learn what foods you need to stock your pantry with to cook Filipino recipes.
"I found kangkung at my local Asian market, but mature spinach is an excellent substitute. Cooking the thicker parts of the vegetable first was quite clever. I added the full amount of sambal oelek and didn’t find it overwhelmingly spicy. I also added more fish sauce at the end, along with a pinch of salt." —Diana Andrews
1 bunch kangkung or mature spinach, about 12 ounces, rinsed
2 to 3 medium shallots, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon minced lemongrass
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sambal oelek, or to taste
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste
1 teaspoon fish sauce, more to taste
Salt, to taste, optional
Gather the ingredients.
Cut the kangkung or spinach into two-inch lengths. Separate into three portions—the thick lower stalks, the middle portion of the stalks, and the leaves.
Grind the shallots, garlic and lemongrass to a paste (a mortar and pestle are traditional, but you can also use a food processor).
Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan. Add the shallot-garlic-lemongrass paste, sambal oelek, tamarind paste, sugar, ginger, shrimp paste, and fish sauce. Cook gently over medium heat until the mixture separates from the oil.
Add the kangkung or spinach stalks—the thick ones. They take the longest to cook so they go into the pan first. Stir. Add about three tablespoons of water and cook for about two minutes.
Add the middle portion of the stalks, stir, cook for a minute.
Add the kangkung or spinach leaves, stir and cook for about half a minute.
Taste and add more fish sauce or salt if needed. Serve hot.