05 June 2014

Water spinach: the illicitly delicious vegetable

In this neck of the woods, water spinach (ong choy, tong choy 蕹菜 in Canto) is pretty expensive, running usually about $5/lb, which is probably why local Thai digs sell tiny plates of stir-fried kangkung for $15 (not naming names because it will incite certain backlash).
IMHO, water spinach best served hot, salty and spicy.

Ipomea aquatica is officially a Federal Noxious Weed in the US, which makes it illegal to grow and import without a permit (however, nothing *really* stops Asians from doing otherwise).

Unless you pull a Gabe, you can't really mess this up unless you overcook it.
Forget salad: water spinach with anchovy sauce, chilis and garlic are an excellent way of winning friends. 
  • Water spinach with garlic, soy and fish sauce (nam pla, which is technically not vegetarian)
  • Belacan kangkung (water spinach with shrimp paste, which is not very vegetarian, unless you consider shrimp a vegetable but last time I checked, shrimp did now grow out of the ground)
  • Chopped up in a sour Vietnamese soup called canh chua
And if you're unbelievable resourceful and short on ingredients like I am, here's what you come up with:

Junk in my fridge: dried shrimp, garlic, onions, soy sauce + chili sauce, and shrimp paste. Also a mordor and apostle which was not in the fridge. 
(Quantities of each ingredient was eyeballed...)
  • Soak the dried shrimp in some water until soft. Drain and discard the water.
  • Mash up the reconstituted dried shrimp with half the garlic and a spoon of the onions.
  • I had no chilis handy but if you do, slice them crosswise thinly.
  • Heat oil, add dried shrimp/garlic/onion and heat until fragrant. Add remaining garlic and then onions. Add shrimp paste and chilis.
  • Clean the water spinach (remove tough parts of stems and gross leaves, then split larger stems to smaller ones; soak, rinse and drain well). 
  • Add the water spinach and stir fry until just cooked. Remove from heat and serve like a king.
*Pats self the back*