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Chinese Water Spinach with Garlic and Chili

This Chinese Water Spinach with Garlic and Chili is ideally for your last-minute side dish. It’s easy, tasty, and healthy!

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Chinese water spinach

This Stir-fry Water Chinese Water Spinach only requires five ingredients( including salt! Yeah, that’s right!) One wok stir-fry in under 5 minutes! Cooked water spinach leaves are very tender with crunchy stems that exude a slightly bitter milky sap and contrast nicely with the sweet neutrality of the leaves, that’s probably why it’s so appetizing. Water spinach stir-fry is usually served as an appetizer or side dish.

Water spinach is one of my favorite greens. I like to simply cook it with sliced garlic and red chili. There are the other two sauces I like to go with water spinach, which are Sha Cha sauce and Fermented Bean Curd.

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Water spinach stir-fry is a quick and appetizing dish

Stir-fried leafy greens are an essential part of Chinese cuisine, and water spinach stir-fry is definitely a regular on the dining table.

What’s Water Spinach (kangkong in english)?

ong choy, Water spinach, Chinese water cress

Water Spinach( KangKong in English, Morning Glory Vietnam) is a semi-aquatic, tropical green vegetable, with distinctive spear-shaped leaves and crunchy hollow stems. The place of origin is unknown, although widely used throughout Asia.

It’s also known as river spinach, water morning glory, water convolvulus, or more ambiguous name such as Chinese spinach, Chinese watercress, Chinese convolvulus, or swamp cabbage. In Southeast Asia, it’s also called ” KangKong/ KangKung and Ong Choy in Cantonese. Yeah, so next time when you see these names on Asian markets, you know they all refer to the same thing.

Photo by Love Krittaya

Despite its name, the taste of water spinach is actually not like spinach. Water spinach has a mild, slightly mineral flavor, a little like watercress without the mustard-like piquancy. Water spinach is a powerhouse of nutrients that benefit your body as well as your skin and brain. It contains abundant quantities of water, iron, vitamin C, vitamin A, and other nutrients.

Where can I find Water Spinach?

Water spinach can be found at Asian supermarkets with fresh produce sections and many weekend farmers’ markets, too. Water spinach can also be grown at home from seeds or stem cuttings that will form roots within a day or so if placed in water. Grow in containers set into deep trays of water. Just keep in mind, you need to pick them frequently to keep the leaves tender and sweet.

ingredients for Chinese Water Spinach with garlic and chili?

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  • Water Spinach– can be found at Asian supermarkets, also known as River spinach, Water morning glory, Water convolvulus, Chinese spinach, Chinese watercress, Chinese convolvulus, ,  swamp cabbage, KangKong/ KangKung ,and Ong Choy in Cantonese. Wash and then trim off the tough stem, separate the stems and leaves, and cut the stems into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces. (Usually the stems takes a bit longer time to cook.)
  • Garlic– Fresh garlic peeled and thinly sliced.
  • Red Chili– Here I use red Cayenne chili( it’s wonderful for flavoring robust, but not spicy)
  • Chinese Cooking Wine– also called Shaoxing Rice Wine – you can sub with dry sherry. If you can’t consume alcohol, you can use vegetable stock.
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Cook’s Note:

For stir-frying, it’s important to get the preparation ready before turning on the gas. (Water Spinach washed and cut into 5 cm long, separate stems and leaves. Garlic and red chili are thinly sliced)

For Stir-fry dishes, it’s best to use Carbon Steel Wok to achieve the best result. If you don’t have a carbon steel wok, you can totally use a nonstick pan to make the dish as well.

How to Stir-Fry Chinese Water Spinach

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  1. Wash water spinach and then cut off the tough stems, cut the rest stems and leaves into 5 cm long pieces. Thinly slice red chili and garlic. Get everything ready before turning on the gas.
  2. Heat up cooking oil in a wok on medium-high heat, then add red chili and half of the garlic into the wok. Constantly stir for a minute until the fragrance of garlic and red chili is released.
  3. Add the stems of the water spinach to the wok, cook and stir for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the leaves of the water spinach. Use a spatula flipping constantly until the leaves are wilted.
  5. Add the rest of sliced garlic in, cook and stir for a minute.
  6. Pour in the Chinese cooking wine and season with salt( to taste). When the cooking wine is evaporated, transfer everything onto a plate and serve.
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It’s very important to cook the stems first as they take a longer time to cook.
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If you do try this recipe, let me know! –Let me know how you like it by rating the recipe & leaving a comment! by tagging @joyful_dumplings_vegan_recipes. I love seeing your creations!

Other meal ideas you will like:

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Chinese Water Spinach with Garlic and Chili

This Chinese Water Spinach with Garlic and Chili is ideally for your last-minute side dish. It's quick, tasty, and healthy!
5 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 50kcal
Author: SHU-CHUN

Equipment

  • Carbon Steel Wok
  • Spatula

Ingredients

  • 250 g Water Spinach 250g after cutting off the tough stems
  • 1 ea Red Chili Thinly sliced
  • 6-8 clove Garlic approx. 30g, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp Chinese Cooking Wine you can sub with dry sherry. If you can’t consume alcohol, you can use vegetable stock.
  • ¼ tsp Salt to taste

Instructions

  • Wash water spinach and then cut off the tough stems, cut the rest stems and leaves into 5 cm long pieces. Thinly slice red chili and garlic. Get everything ready before turning on the gas.
  • Heat up cooking oil in a wok on medium-high heat, then add red chili and half of the garlic into the wok. Constantly stir for a minute until the fragrance of garlic and red chili is released.
  • Add the stems of the water spinach to the wok, cook and stir for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the leaves of the water spinach. Use a spatula flipping constantly until the leaves are wilted.
  • Add the rest of the sliced garlic in, cook, and stir for a minute.
  • Pour in the Chinese cooking wine and season with salt( to taste). When the cooking wine is evaporated, transfer everything onto a plate and serve.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1serve | Calories: 50kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 434mg | Potassium: 438mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 7881IU | Vitamin C: 72mg | Calcium: 114mg | Iron: 2mg

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2 thoughts on “Chinese Water Spinach with Garlic and Chili”

  1. 5 stars
    Love this way to prepare ong choy! I added a little soy sauce instead of salt for seasoning. Thank you so much for sharing

    Reply
    • Hi Cindy,

      I’m so glad you liked it! You also can skip the salt and then add some Sha Cha sauce or bean paste.

      They taste fantastic with Ong Choy too.

      Shu-Chun xx

      Reply

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