Sunday 22 June 2008

Whoo hoo kangkung!


A few weeks ago at the Vic Market I happened upon a stall selling a green vegetable that I couldn't name but looked oddly familiar. After a few moments examining it, I realised with a jolt that it was in fact kangkung, a variety of water spinach I'd become obsessed with on my trip to Bali last year. I snapped up a bunch of it (only $1.60!!) and took it home to try and recreate kangkung plecing (with sambal). It was a great success, and left me jonesing for more.


Alas my search for it yesterday at Prahran Market was unsuccessful, despite the best efforts of the woman at the Asian grocer and the nice young bearded chap at the gourmet mushroom place. But such was my craving for it that this morning - after brunch with my parents back at Auction Rooms (FYI, today I got around to tasting the Auction Rooms home-made baked beans with thyme - they're awesome) - I begged them to prop the car outside the Vic Market so that I could dash in and buy a few bunches. Hoorah!

Stir frying kangkung

Now I just improvised my recipe using minimal ingredients, but AOF from Confessions of a Food Nazi wrote up a proper recipe for kangkung plecing which I'm looking forward to trying next time.

I heated up oil in the wok and threw in some garlic, sambal oelek, palm sugar and lime juice. After half a minute or so I threw in the stalks of the kangkung, then twenty seconds later the leaves, tossed them through for twenty seconds, then served it. Easy peasy.

Sunday dinner

Tonight I served the kangkung plecing with Nigella's Mirin-glazed Salmon (from Nigella Express) - also very tasty and quick to prepare, as Sarah recently attested. Kangkung is my new favourite vegetable and I don't care who knows it - plus its introduction into our house has given my housemate DJ a new favourite c-word variant... :)


stickyfingers said...

Luvvie, you live in Richmond no? Kangkung/kang kong and other Asian vegetables are available in cheap abundance in Victoria Street, yes?

I buy mine at the fabulous Huy Huy, one of the last remaining genuine Viet grocers there. I gave the mortar and pestle a workout and we had our KK last night with home made beef rendang & roti.

I use premade Sambal Badjak, warming it up in the new Scanpan with a couple of drops of oil and then drop in the KK. After the oil and chilli have coated the greens I toss in a tablespoon of water and cover the pan. A couple of minutes later I add 10ml of palm sugar syrup and a splash of Viet fish sauce, stirring through gently and serve once incorporated.

There's just enough crunch and the leaves are still green this way. Me likee!

Sarah said...

I *heart* kang kong!

We eat it Malaysian-stylie, that is with blachan - chilli with prawn paste. Blachan smells terrible when you're preparing it, but tastes soo good!!

xox Sarah

Anonymous said...

I am so excited you spotted it at the Vic, as I've always had to pick it up in Springvale, Glen Waverley or as Sticky mentioned, Victoria St.

I absolutely love it stir fried up with fermented bean curd, garlic, chilli and oil. favourite green when I eat out Canto/Hokkien restaurants.

Sarah said...

Ooh.. fermented bean curd. I love that too. Although we always forget the Cantonese word for it and can never order it in restaurants, lol.

Incidentally, I read once in a feng shui book, that kang kong is the ideal food to feed your pet turtle/tortoise or terrapin. Placed in the north sector of your home, office or garden they will bring you career luck, I'm told. Hehe!

xox Sarah

stickyfingers said...

Sarah, I love Belanchan too, but last time I cooked with it - for my satay sauce - it took 4 days to clear the smell from the house, even with windows open and oil burners fired up. In the end I resorted to Nil Odour - LOL!

If it's the red fermemted tofu you're thinking of, it's called Nam Yu. I like the Taiwanese one that has miso, chilli and sesame in it, stinkkkkky but bloody good.

claire said...

Cool, there's a conversation between third parties on my comments page! :)

Erm, sticky... you're quite right. I do live in Richmond (well, Cremorne). The sound you just heard was me smacking my forehead for being so dumb as to not realise I'd be able to pick up kangkung in Victoria Street. I shall visit Huy Huy on your recommendation next weekend, thanks!

And thank you to all three of you lovely ladies for providing recipe suggestions. Fish sauce sounds great, as does tofu (though personally I can't go past the silky stuff, I'm obsessed with the texture). Yay for stinky blachan - even if it makes my housemate reach for his smelling salts...

Sarah, the only turtles I have are the virtual ones I have swimming around my iGoogle homepage... but I've aligned them so that they're up at the north (upper) sector of my screen... :)

claire said...

Oh, and mellie: next time you're at the Vic, walk out of the cheese/deli section and up the main artery of that fruit and veggie section... it's the last stall on the left (facing the donut stand).

GS said...

I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. I made variations on my pelcing recipe so many times (throw in extra veges (like blanched green beans) and some (ordinary) tofu, cook some rice and it becomes a complete meal...oh I want some nowwwwwww :)

claire said...

I used up my other bunch of kangkung last night, using stickyfingers' basic recipe and adding my silky tofu. As you say AOF, with rice it becomes a complete meal. The fish sauce gave it a great flavour!

Sarah said...

Hey Sticky,

Nam Yu! Thanks for that. Now I'll be able to order it more easily.

Mum used to do blachan when we were little. I HATED the smell and would never eat anything she cooked with it. Of course this changed when I got older and developed a taste for it. :D

xox Sarah

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you pay for it. The stuff is growing in gardens all over the place - it's so easy to grow, spreads like wildfire.

stickyfingers said...

Grace you must live somewhere tropical to have Water Convolvulus as a weed :). I'm sure we all would love to be able to stop by a roadside and cut off a bunch or have some in the garden.

Here in Melbourne it is temperate and given that we are in the midst of a drought, it's just not damp enough for a heat loving swamp water plant to grow.

of thieves said...

oh my goodness, i love kangkong, especially with sambal. i've never cooked it though, but now i have the incentive to try. i went to auction rooms for brunch this weekend, and had the french toast. it's made with brioche, bacon and berries...i polished off the whole lot. astounding.