The favorite green vegetable throughout Asia is probably water convolvulus, probably better known in Malay as kangkung or in Chinese as oong choy. It can be steamed like spinach or simmered in coconut milk, but more likely it will be combined with the flavors of the region, including the ubiquitous shrimp paste.
- 1 kg (2 lb) water spinach or other leafy greens
- 1 teaspoon dried shrimp paste (blacan)
- 2 tablespoons small dried shrimp
- 1 brown onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
- 2 red chillies, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil
- 2 teaspoons sugar
Wash the greens thoroughly. Discard the bottom end of the stems, which could be tough. Cut the rest into short lengths, about 5 cm (2 in). Wrap the shrimp paste in foil and grill for about 2 minutes on each side. Put the dried shrimp in a blender and blend on high speed until they are reduced to a floss. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, chillies and a little oil or water to make blending easier, and blend until combined. Heat the oil in a wok and fry the paste, stirring, until it smells fragrant. Then add the shrimp paste and crush with spoon, then add 125 ml (4 fl oz/ ½ cup) water and dissolve. Toss in the green vegetable, cover and steam for 3 minutes or until it is tender. Season to taste with salt and sugar, mixing well. Serve with rice and curries.