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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Kangkong or convolvulus with shacha sauce (沙茶酱)

The kang kong or water convolvulus is a semi aquatic vegetable that grows in the wild. Here in Singapore, it finds its way from the tables in homes to restaurants, stir fried with sambal chilli, garlic and nothing else.  With a simple vegetable as such, the skill of the chef , the cooking utensils and condiments  will determine how the stir fried kang kong will turn out to be : limp, overcooked, watery or tender retaining its crunch with the 'breath of the wok' that cooks it.
The sauce can be bought from the Taiwanese shop in People's Park ( Chinatown )

Here, instead of the usual sambal balachan which is  a blend of spices, chillies and pounded shrimp, I use the Taiwanese Shacha Sauce. According to the labels, it contains brill fish, garlic, shrimp, spices, coconut and shallots. Usually used as a dip for steamboat, Shacha gives a similar 'grainy rustic texture'  to the leaves of the kang kong  but does not have the heat of the pungent sambal, an alternative for a milder version of the sambal kang kong.

Shacha or sambal chilli, to  cook a lip smacking dish of kang kong,  always toss the vegtable in high heat, all other ingredients in for 10 - 15 times.Remove from the pan immediately so as  to just wilt the leaves and coat them with spices.

For 3 :
1 bunch of kang kong , washed, drain well.
1/2 cup of Shacha sauce
5 garlic cloves, minced.

Method :
Cut kang kong stem with a pair of scissors, with a leaf for every stalk, at an angle. Discard the lower yellow leafs with thick stems.
Fry garlic in hot oil.
Fry shacha sauce. Increase to high heat.
Add kang kong. Toss quickly and refrain from adding water. If you must, wet your hands and sprinkle water from your fingers.
Great with plain rice.

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