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Kangkong (kang kong, kangkung) is water / swamp spinach

Sometimes, I take it for granted that all readers would understand what I’m referring to when I say kangkong. Then, I remembered that not only Filipinos read blogs. In fact, it seems that some second and third generation Filipinos born and bred abroad and who have never been to the Philippines aren’t all that familiar with local fruits and vegetables. I suppose it’s one thing to hear their mothers and grandmothers talk about kangkong and quite another to really know what kangkong is.

So, for those who have been asking, this is what kangkong looks like. At least, that’s one of the sub-varieties. There are kangkong with shorter stalks and long pointed leaves.

For the longest time, I was under the impression that kangkong only grew in the Philippines and that only Filipinos eat it as a vegetable. Wrong impression. If you Google “kang kong” (yes, two words) and “kangkung”, you’ll discover that it is just as ubiquitous all over Asian and in various Malayan cuisines, including Indonesian and Malaysian. In Thailand, it is called phak bung; it is rau muong in Vietnam; kolmishak in Bangladesh and the Chinese has many regional names for it.

Kangkong is Ipomoea aquatica, it is a semiaquatic plant that grows in swamps. Both the hollow stalks and the leaves are edible although the stalks are tougher and take a bit longer to cook.

In the Philippines, kangkong is one of several vegetables associated with sinigang. Another popular way to cook it is an adobo dish, with out without meat.