Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sambal Kang Kong

Is it me or do you also find that stirfried leafy greens are just so hard to photograph? They are always a mangled mess, flopped onto a plate/bowl and lacking the "wow" factor visually? Right after I dished this fiery Sambal Kang Kong out of the wok and into the bowl, I literally drew a deep breath before I started snapping pics. I'd never been able to get satisfactory shots of leafy greens (so many veggie dishes gone unblogged!) and I kept my fingers crossed that I would at least get some decent ones this time.

Here they are. Nothing spectacular, but at least they are blog-worthy. Trust me, they taste a lot better than they look. And even more delicious (with steaming hot rice) on a cold, rainy day.

I bought 2 large bunches of kang kong for the "princely" sum of $1 ... imagine that!

While I pound most of the dried shrimps, I like to leave some whole, for crunch.

- 2 huge bunches of kang kong (I think it was about 1kg)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cloves shallots, sliced
- 1 handful dried shrimps (soaked briefly, and don't discard the water)
- 2 heaped tbsp sambal (homemade or storebought)
- 4 tbsp oil *
- 1 tbsp sugar *
* Note: I have been taught time and time again by seasoned cooks, that oil and sugar are must-have ingredients for kang kong. I've always abided by that advice.

Pound these up roughly:
- 1 to 2 red chillies (don't deseed if you like it spicy)
- 1 thumb sized piece of belacan, toasted lightly

1. In a wok, heat oil. Add shallots and fry till they have turned translucent. Add dried shrimps and continue frying till fragrant. Add garlic and fry briefly.

2. Add in the sambal and pounded chillies + belacan. Fry briefly as you mix everything up.

3. Throw in the kang kong and mix them well with the paste. Add sugar. The leaves will wilt as you cook. Add the soaking water (for the dried shrimps) that you have kept aside, if it's too dry.

4. Add some salt to taste. Keep stirring and frying until kang kong is cooked. Don't overcook, though. They should still be green and crunchy despite the wilted appearance. Serve immediately.

I would not eat kang kong cooked any other way. The spicier the better.

To make up for the blah kang kong photos, here are some pics of my children, having fun at Changi Airport's Terminal 3. They are a lot enjoyable to photograph than stirfried leafy greens, that's for sure!

I had to go to the airport to meet someone, and brought my "little crowd" along. When my kids saw this huge bouncy castle, they went wild. It turned out to be such an enjoyable afternoon for them.

All good things come to those who queue.

They went down the slide in all ways possible. Like this.

Like this and like this.

Bounce, bounce, bounce.

And then it "snowed".

After all that non-stop bouncing (2 rounds totaling 30mins), they still had the energy leftover for sprinting.

This huge Christmas bauble opened up as we were approaching. I think it only opens up at regular intervals. We were lucky.

It played Christmas carols for a while, before it closed back up again.

The airport terminal was prettily gift-wrapped. I still prefer T2 to T3, though.

My littlest showing off his climbing prowess.

And then they marched in single file ... time to go home.


  1. love sambal kangkong and will try ur recipe, but.. where did the sambal goes? I dun see u add to the kangkong. (or the sambal is the chillies and belacan?)

  2. Thanks, ClearTear! It goes in together with the chilli + belacan. I amended the recipe already. :)

  3. I know I would love the dish..and now I know to pick up crispy shrimps:)

    And your photos are far more appetizing than any greens I have tried!

    But your children Ju:) So so cute and the decors so vibrant and fun.. that the bog ornament opened up for you was great..

    I find kids determined:) Look at your little one..if we had to do that every time we sat down..I wonder how many of u would:)?

    You daughter will be like you:)

    Thanks Ju..I love seeing the personal sides.

  4. Your photo is beautiful. I think cooked beef is hard to photograph. And black dogs. :-) Great post. This dish looks so healthy and lucious.

  5. Delicious recipes for sure and beautiful photo! Thanks for the trip.


  6. wonderful photos... Not sure how, but I have to work on my pictures... something is just not right.

    I love shots of families. WONDERFUL POST!!!

  7. I feel the same way when I photograph a salad or greens, but I have to say that your photos look really beautiful and incredibly appetizing. Such a bright green, and I can just see the crunch! Fabulous color (I think you have the best kitchen window light in the entire blogosphere).

  8. Oh..I love kang kong, very delicious and crunchy. Nice clicks too!

  9. Ti ringrazio carissimo Ju del bel commento che hai lasciato al mio post. Anche ogi hai presentato una ricetta gustosa e saporita; la verdura a foglia verde che hai usato sono degli spinaci? Qui da me c'è un sacco di neve e fa tanto freddo.Un abbraccio ai tuoi bimbi, si vede dal post quanto si sono divertiti. Un abbraccio e un bacione Daniela.

  10. Your photos are wonderful Ju! brilliantly green and fresh looking...sambal kangkung is my fave..mmm

    ur kids are so adorable and energetic.....altho I cant imagine chasing after them....when mine were little it was pure madness...esp with 3 boys. one day 2 of them started squabbling in the clothing section of parkson and it was such a riot with punches, kicking and screaming....tht EVERYONE stopped to watch!!

    I laugh now but at the time it was pure 'not heaven'...altho they were little I couldnt do anything bcos they were like two cats fighting n clawing at each other...LOLOL

    Thank god they dont do that anymore!! LOL

    Oh btw I LOVE your airport...I could live there! :))

  11. I love your photos, the green is so brighting and thank you for sharing your airport, it's funny to see and christmas decorations are so huge !

  12. For one, the kang kong actually looks amazing - I dont know how you managed to photograph these vegetables so well! They look very "glossy" - but I really really enjoyed seeing the pictures of your kids! It looks like you have such a fun household!

  13. una ricetta deliziosa! complimenti per il piatto e le foto!

    Tanti auguri di Buone Feste!

    ciao ciao ciao!

  14. I know what you mean, veg dishes can come out like a floppy mess. But your clicks are great! Love sambal kang kong!

  15. The greens photographed so so so well and what a fun time with the kids!!!!

  16. I'd hardly call your kangkung photos blah! But then I've never been cold in Singapore either. Great dish and wonderful photos.

  17. I think you did a pretty good job with the photos..I love kangkong, I simply stir-fry it and it's already yummy, your sambal kangkong is making my mouth water, I totally agree with you, the spicier the better! Thanks for sharing, Ju and Happy Holidays to you and your beautiful family! :)

  18. I love this sambal kangkung and I just realized that I have never cooked this at home, I must try it out one day soon. So you have 2 boys and one girl, same like me, kids are very active when they are in this kind of playground, good for them, at least for them to release the energy.

  19. nice photographs lah! enough to make me drool at the sight of it :)

  20. the photos still look great!! But you're right, you only have a minute of so to really capture these before they will. We love kang kong belacan but will have to try it with sambal!

  21. Yummy sambal Kangkong but I was busy checking out your cute kids :) They are gorgeous!

  22. I think your greens look fantastic and vibrant!! I also love the photos of your children enjoying the day. I bet they zonked out later on...haha

  23. I know what you mean about them being hard to photograph but you did well. I love kangkong! :) Adorable photos too of your brood! :D

  24. The dish looks yummy Ju! Anyone who's had good sambal kang kong couldn't possibly find your pictures boring. I love dried shrimp with all kinds of veggie...

    And I smiled at the pictures of the big red bauble. When my husband and I saw it at the airport a few weeks ago (closed up, at the time) we thought it was Chinese New Year decor put up way too early!

  25. wow..your kangkung looks very crunchy and fresh! must eat while hot.. long time i didnt take this dish..
    changi airport.. yeah, it is famous..but i have yet to fly or visit singapore airport.. :)

  26. Hahaha your kids are adorable!! I love this kind of vegetable my mom would stir fry it with shrimp paste heh heh...also I made those delicious sugar donut muffins. They were spectacular! Hope you are doing well, happy holidays!

  27. LOL! I love how you shared about your frustration in taking leafy green dishes! I share the same feelings, too! Have you noticed any on my blog so far? Hahahaha ...! I hope I can someday ... Just hope mine won't turn readers' appetite off!

    You know what, growing up in Malaysia & Singapore, how can we not know kangkung belacan (I'm more used to this term.) It's my fave, too, as I can take gulps of rice with it in one sitting!!


  28. wahhhhh. this is at changi airport?!
    haha yay sambal kangkong!
    never fail to order that everytime i go for my occasional east coast seafood :)
    alongside with my lala! yum! :)

  29. Steamed or stir fried leafy greens are very difficult to photograph but your photos are one of the best I've seen yet!

    The blow up castle is wonderful! Why don't they have stuff like that for adults? Just saying....

  30. Water spinach!'s impossible to find them in this time of the season....they are simply divine! The airport is looks amazingly big and beautiful.

  31. The third kang kong photo looks well-taken. But I do agree stir fry greens are hard to photographed.

  32. Je trouve les photos magnifiques.j'aime beaucoup le plat aussi.
    Vous avez un aéroport impressionnant.
    A bientôt et bonnes fêtes.

  33. Your shots look perfect to me, just that the kang kong is "camera-shy" on that day. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family!

  34. Your veggies look perfect! People would eat more greens if they could see your gorgeous pictures! Thanks for sharing :)

  35. When does the sugar gets added to the cooking process? Together with the oil?

  36. Jenny: Thanks for pointing it out. It's at Step 3.

  37. Ooooohhh...I love kang kong and that looks so good!

    One question - I cook a lot of Thai food but have never cooked Singaporean or Malaysian food. can I use Thai shrimp paste for belacan, or is it actually a different ingredient?

  38. Hi,
    First visit to ur blog. Nice!

    Yeah, I do agree that sugar and oil is indispensable for this dish. I was taught that the sugar prevents the kangkung from browning.

  39. Hi,
    I am a SG who has been away for many years and being away from home, the first thing I miss is mum's food

    I browse through your recipes and now I have a very strong craving for SG food. My mum is a very good cook as myself and siblings are very choosy about food when we were young. She can cook the same dish with variations to cater to her children with different taste. Example, Elder one, spicier. Second one, sweeter and less spicy. smallest one, sweet with spice.

    By the way, do you have any advice for doing Teochew Porridge "Cai Bei"? Fine slice Preserved Vegetables?

    Well done and Thank you for sharing all these recipes.
    SG Food Lover