Having just recently discovered the myriad of kangkong recipes in various Asian cuisines, my kangkong world has expanded by leaps and bounds. How was I to know that by simply changing the spelling of kangkong into kangkung or by splitting kang kong into two words, I’d discover so many other ways to cook it apart from dropping it into a pot of sinigang or sauteing it adobo style?
This dish is a new beginning for me too. After having stayed away from bagoong for decades because of an allergy, I discovered that my digestive system can tolerate it in small amounts. Half a teaspoonful for a whole bunch of kangkong good for two to three persons meant that only half or less of the bagoong would go into my body. And with such small amount, I can tolerate the stinky smell too.
So, this recipe starts with kangkong. Sambal is a chili paste, there are a lot of varieties, the one I used is sambal oelek (available in groceries). If you use sambal belacan which is a chili paste with shrimp paste, you don’t have to add shrimp paste separately but you’ll probably have to make adjustments with 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.
Recipe: Sambal kangkong with shrimp paste
- a large bunch of kangkong, rinsed
- 1 large red onion, peeled and diced
- 6 cloves of garlic, crushed and peeled
- 1 tsp. of finely minced lemongrass
- 2 tbsps. of vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp. of grated ginger
- 1 heaping tbsp. of sambal oelek (or use 2 to 3 finely chopped bird’s eye chilis)
- 1 tsp. of tamarind paste
- 1 tsp. of sugar
- 1/2 tsp. of bagoong (shrimp paste)
- patis (fish sauce), to taste
- Cut the kangkong into two-inch lengths. Separate into three portions — the thick lower stalks, the middle portion of the stalks and the leaves. Why? I’ll get to that.
- Grind the onion, garlic and lemongrass to a paste (I used a food processor; a mortar and pestle is traditional).
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan. Add the onion-garlic-lemongrass paste, grated ginger, tamarind paste, shrimp paste, sugar, sambal oelek (or chilis, if that’s what you’re using) and about a teaspoonful of patis. Cook gently over medium heat until the mixture separates from the oil.
- Add the kangkong stalks — the thick ones. They take the longest to cook so they go into the pan first. Stir. Pour in about three tablespoonfuls of water and cook for about two minutes.
- Add the middle portion of the stalks, stir, cook for a minute.
- Add the kangkong leaves, stir and cook for about half a minute.
- Taste, add more patis, if needed.
- Serve hot.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 5 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 2 to 3