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Spicy Kangkung (Water Spinach) with Sambal Belacan Recipe

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 | Labels: |

I can never resist homemade sambal belacan.  When I say homemade, I mean pounding the sambal the old fashioned way, with a mortar and pestle.  I usually just use dried chilli peppers, shallots and of course belacan (shrimp paste).  Belacan is very pungent but oh so aromatic.  It is however not to everyone's taste and is an acquired taste.  But for Malaysians, this savoury condiment totally smells of home.  Growing up, I used to watch with interest whenever my mom or the helper started pounding the dried chillis together - I thought it was the most fragrant thing ever.  However, the auntie who lives on top of me sometimes start pounding like at night - definitely not a good idea when you're living in an apartment building!

Kangkung or water spinach is very crunchy and has hollow stalks.  Hence, it is very important to soak and clean these vegetables very throughly before cooking as biting into grit is definitely not appetising.  To really bring out the savoury flavours, I like to add some splashes of soy sauce.  This is a quick dish where you don't have to stir-fry the vegetables for too long to avoid them from turning yellowish and also to keep the crunchiness.

This post is part of my Yuen Chun Recipes, an ongoing project on this blog.


1 bundle of kangkong
Handful of dried shrimp (if desired)

Splashes of light soy sauce

Sambal belacan:
12 dried chili peppers (soaked in warm water)
10 shallots (skin removed)
1.5 tablespoons belacan (toasted in oven or dry fried until aromatic)

All pounded together or use a food processor


Firstly,  heat wok until almost smoking.  Add 4 tablespoons oil.  Swirl to coat.  Add in about 4 tablespoons of the pounded sambal belacan.  Fry until the oil separates and aromatic.  Add in dried shrimp.  Add the soy sauce.  Finally, add the vegetables and turn to coat well.  Cook until vegetables wilt.  Serve hot.



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