Friday, June 11, 2010

Hong Kong-style Stir-fried Water Spinach with Shrimp Paste (蝦醬通菜)

Kangkong, or water spinach as it is sometimes known, is one of my favourite vegetables.

This is quite a simple dish to make -- and it makes a nice change from our usual stir-fry with garlic version.

The "Cantonese" ingredient in this case is shrimp paste.

Of course, like all shrimp pastes, this is very pungent and is usually an acquired taste for those unfamiliar with it. In this case, it is used sparingly just to add a little flavor to the greens. So perhaps using shrimp paste in this way is a good start for beginners.

I start with some oil, some garlic, a birds-eye chili sliced lengthwise because I don't want the dish to be too spicy, and a tablespoon of shrimp paste. The shrimp paste is quite salty, so I find there's no reason to salt anymore.

A quick stir-fry is all the kangkong needs, enough to coat it with the sauce -- don't overcook as kangkong will turn brown-ish grey and the stalks will lose its crunchiness.

I confess, the sliced red bell peppers were purely ornamental. It's all for the blog!

eatingclub Hong Kong/Cantonese
Chicken Chow Mein
Cantonese Braised Beef Brisket, Two Ways
Lobster Congee from a Lobster Feast
Chinese Roast Pork Belly
Gailan (Chinese Broccoli) with Oyster Sauce, Two Ways
Chinese Pork Bone Soup with Carrots and Water Chestnuts
Hong Kong-style Curry Cuttlefish
Dimsum Seafood Trio: Black Pearl Prawn Toast, Scallop in Nest, Jewelled Rice Cup
Hong Kong-style Singapore Noodles (星洲炒米)
Hong Kong-style Stir-fried Water Spinach with Shrimp Paste (蝦醬通菜)
Hong Kong-style Stir-fried Rice Noodle with Beef (乾炒牛河)
Sweet and Sour Pork
Hong Kong-style Curry Beef Brisket (咖喱牛腩), 1st Attempt

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Hong Kong-style Stir-fried Water Spinach with Shrimp Paste (蝦醬通菜)

1 bunch kangkong (on-choy/water spinach/tong choy)
2 cloves garlic, whole or sliced
1 birds-eye chili, sliced lengthwise
half a red bell pepper, sliced into strips (optional)

1 tbsp Chinese shrimp paste (adjust quantity to taste)

Cut kangkong into 2-inch or 3-inch lengths. Wash and drain.

In a hot wok, add vegetable oil. Then add garlic cloves and the shrimp paste. Stir for a few seconds. Add sliced kangkong and bell peppers. Cook for a few minutes until kangkong has wilted but is not overcooked.

Serve hot with white rice.


  1. I learn about new ingredients from you guys all the time

  2. I agree with kat, I'm always learning new ingredients! :)

    Thanks for making this recipe using the Shrimp paste! I now have reason to get this sauce now!

  3. Love this! To southeast Asia, this is known as Kangkong Belachan ;-)

  4. This is fascinating! I am going to look for shrimp paste and see if I can incorporate it with my own Lebanese recipes. Love it with this vegetable but don't know if it is available here in lebanon.

  5. Another favourite in my family (minus the bell peppers...). Although, interestingly, I was taught to use fermented soybean paste and not shrimp paste.

  6. I love stir-fried ong choy!

    Shrimp paste (harm ha) will do in a pinch, but belacan is where it's at! Some larger Asian grocery stores should carry blocks of belacan nowadays. I suggest a taste-off between belacan and harm ha ;-)

  7. kat:
    Rice Palette:
    I did warn you about the pungency, though. ;)

    The flavors are slightly different... but yes, definitely noticeably shrimp paste-y. =)

    Hmm, maybe not, re availability of kangkong/water spinach in Lebanon. I believe it grows in very wet conditions.

    Those different kinds of soybean pastes are so confusing! We may have fermented soybean paste in the house, but I wonder if it's the same one you're referring to.

    I think belacan is scarier than the Cantonese shrimp paste! LOL.


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