Kong Xin Cai (Water Spinach), for JFI - Green Leafy Vegetables

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Ever since learning the theme of this JFI I have been looking forward to joining in. Many have the view that eating healthy or eating a good vegetarian diet is difficult or expensive, but I find that fresh greens are great value and take no time at all to cook. Washed greens in the fridge are my favourite convenience food. I have never been a green salad person, but love to chop greens and stir them into soups, use them as a bed for Eggs Cooked on Top of Things, or give them a quick stir fry for eating on top of rice, grits, or noodles.

This odd, long-leafed plant at my local market was a mystery until I saw some vendors selling piles of it already trimmed and chopped. The hollow stems gave it away - kong xin cai means hollow heart vegetable. I had actually eaten this before and liked it very much but had never seen its natural form. A preparation I enjoy very much is to stir fry with shrimp paste, but I didn't have shrimp paste on hand so used a smoky bacon to get some salt and depth. If you don't want to use bacon you can heat half a tablespoon of crushed garlic in 1-2 tbs of oil til garlic is soft, then add the vegetable and a little salt. Other greens such as chard or kale would also be delicious cooked this way.

Take 1-2 tablespoons of diced bacon and cook over high heat til fat is rendered and bacon is crisp. Add two cups of chopped kong xin cai and stir fry over high heat for just a few seconds til stems are tender and leaves are wilted. Drizzle with black or balsamic vinegar. This feeds one person as a meal or two as a side dish.


Jann said...

I love any kind of spinach-you have done a wonderful job with this find!


Looks good. I would like to try it with olive oil and chives.

Kirrily said...

I think this is the same vegetable that's called kangkung in Malaysian, which is where I know it from. I cook it much as you do, but lately my flavouring of choice has been just a bit of soy and a bit of chilli ground up in oil. It's also good with some tofu stir-fried in the same stuff.