It’s called kangkung / kangkong in South East Asia. Water morning glory / phak bung in Thailand. Water spinach and water convolvulus are some other names. Ipomoea aquatica is it’s latin name – according to Wikipedia, it is “a semiaquatic, tropical plant grown as a leaf vegetable.” Right, it grows in water – if you haven’t figured that out by now.
In the 1970s, we were taught a little Indonesian children’s folk song at school, Lenggang Kangkung. I fell in love, the very day I learned this song, with the visual image that it created in my mind – lenggang means to sway rhythmically, like in a gentle dance. Kangkung swaying gently in the water, that is the image locked inside my brain – a permanent press! (Yes, yes, yes, Temple Grandin is right, every visual thinker and every visual minded Aspie just has to have an image attached to every single favourite thing, or whatever that traumatise us, everything has an attached ‘thumbnail’, but that’s not the subject of this post is it now?)
Well, while out shopping for groceries the other day, I spotted a whole lot of rather fresh kangkung at Harris Farms. $1.50 a bunch – how could I resist? It also happens to be one of my favourite vegetables, not just because of the song and the visual image imprinted in my mind. I like the light crunchiness of the stalks and the deep vivid dark green of the leaves. It doesn’t have a sharp taste, unlike the Chinese bak choy, nor does it have that dull heaviness that Chinese kailan carries. The Asian vegetables grown here and sold cheaply at Harris Farms are particularly huge – ‘old’ is what the Chinese call it, stringy and super chewy. I wonder why? Anyway, I was delighted to spot the fresh and not humongous kangkung – grabbed a bunch, which is all I can buy at one go because these things don’t keep.
Oh, by the way, the stems / stalks are hollow – I love the texture, and the popping crunching sound they make when one bites into them.
Stir fried, moderate high heat, modest amount of oil (I use olive but most Asians use either peanut or vegetable oil) and my favourite flavouring is the preserved salted yellow soy bean.
Here we go, this experiment included tomato paste, garlic and chicken cubes! It was delicious. 🙂
And… guess what? I found this article in the Gardening Australia website, about growing your own kangkung! Now, if only I had space for a big container that holds water! 🙂