In Mandarin Language, ‘空心菜’ literally translate to empty heart vegetable which means hollow vegetables. Its stem is hollow.
It belong to the morning glory family (Convolvulaceae)1 which would explain its name. It is also known as water spinach which is very misleading as it is not a type of spinach.
This vegetable is the cheapest vegetable in Malaysia, costing at present RM2/ kg. It grows in wetlands: swamps, paddy fields, streams, rivers etc.
It is used in South East Asian cooking. The Malaysian dishes are kangkung belacan (stir fried morning glory with fermented shrimp paste), boiled kangkung in kangkung cuttlefish rojak and boiled kangkung in spicy prawn noodle soup, nasi goreng kampong (village fried rice) etc.
In Thai cuisine it is eaten raw but in we are advised not to eat it raw in Malaysia. These water vegetables might harbour intestinal fluke found as larval cyst on it.2
I have also included a vegetarian stir fry kangkung recipe below.
Kangkung Belacan/ Stir Fried Morning Glory with Fermented Shrimp Paste/ 马来风光
It is called马来风光in Malaysian Chinese restaurant which translate to ‘Malay Scenery’.
1 tbsp garlic
1 tsp dried shrimp
1 tbsp belacan (fermented shrimp paste)
1-2 red chilli
1. Chop garlic, shallots, dried shrimp, red chilli finely or blend it all into paste.
2. Heat oil, stir fry paste and belacan.
3. Stir in kangkung. Add salt to taste.
Stir Fried Kangkung
1 tbsp chopped garlic
3 chopped shallots
1-2 red chilli
Heat oil and brown garlic, shallots and red chilli. Stir in kangkung. Add few tbsp water if it is too dry. Add salt to taste.