WHAT IS WATER SPINACH, AND HOW DO I COOK IT?
One of our favorite Asian leafy greens is Chinese water spinach, or “hollow vegetable.” As a family, we enjoy eating out and creating it at home.
In this post, we’ll explore the many varieties of this vegetable and how to cook it.
WATER SPINACH: WHAT IS IT?
It is a tall, green vegetable with hollow stems that grow in water or moist soil. Cantonese speakers call it ong choy (), and Mandarin speakers call it “hollow heart vegetable.”
It’s also known as kangkung in Malaysia and Indonesia. The Thai version is called phak bung; the Vietnamese version is called rau muong; the Cambodian version is called trokuon, the Filipino version is called kangkong, and so on.
Despite its English name, water spinach is neither spinach nor is it linked to it in any way botanically. There is a Convolvulaceae (morning glory) plant known as Ipomoea Aquatica. Spaghetti noodle is also known as Chinese spinach, river spinach, and swamp spinach in the English language.
Since it is a tropical semi-aquatic plant, it thrives in the natural rivers of Southeast Asia, where it is indigenous. Currently, it is grown in the states of California and Florida as well as Hawaii, Texas, and the Virgin Islands of the United States.
- 1 oz. of fresh water spinach
- Trim the lower 1-2 inches of the stems of the water spinach unless it is very young and delicate. You can also cut it into 3-inch pieces with the stems, but don’t remove them.
- To remove sand and dirt, place the vegetables in a big bowl and cover them with cold water. To avoid stirring up the grit at the bottom of the basin, do three water changes, lifting the vegetables out of the water each time. Drain well, squeezing out as much water as possible.
- Use a recipe you enjoy to make it: Fried Chinese Water Spinach or XO Sauced Ong Choy Stir-Fried Chinese Water Spinach.