Have you ever tasted an exotic-looking dish that’s actually assembled from the “lowly” kangkong? Kankong (scientific name: ipomea aquatica) commonly trademarked as “poor man’s “food is another one from the spinach species (water spinach) in the Philippines. It is actually an abundant vine-like vegetable that you can grow in personalized small swamp at your backyard, or grow them standing some 6 to 8 inches tall in your plant bed or a refurbished plant box. For many, many years, journals have recounted that during the World War II, Kangkong simple dishes have served and saved hundreds, maybe, thousands dining tables from hunger.

Allow me to take you to a short trip to Manila where I had my “kangkong “dish experience some years ago when I was vacationing there. Actually I was trying to squeeze myself finding a place in some music gig right after I’ve gone to college. There was this Pinausukan Seafood House not very far from the Araneta Coliseum which I and a friend have visited. Araneta Coliseum was the famous venue for the PBA games during those years. Those were memorable years for me and Pinausukan Seafood House dining were one of those. Me and my date were served as appetizers a small serving of “ginataang kohol”, a cultured snail cooked in “kakang gata” (thick coconut milk from its first squeeze) with bright red chilli that made my eyes popped open because I knew they were very hot (ear blowing hotness, I’m telling you) AND a small serving of kangkong stalks or stems cooked in “gata” ( very thick coconut milk) too, making the vegetables looked oh so shiny, I think because of the “gata”.I did not see red, thin, pointed peppers in my dish or around the tiny plate, so I ate it. My, oh, my, the vegetables were very crisp, very delectable, with the familiar taste of coconut milk sweetness, but the hotness almost blew my ears apart. I cried. My nose started running. I didn’t know. I was fooled. But wait, before you start accusing the owners (I don’t know if they are still around these days, might have renamed the establishment or maybe have gone somewhere). The unseen peppers are what made the dish very unique; I was told later it was their specialty. But one remarkable thing that made the food great to me was the splendid taste which they successfully concocted from kangkong. Superbly blended to perfection with ingredients you can find even in small markets, you already have a great dish. The popularity of this lowly vegetable made its way not only here among the locals and at Asias’s best restos but goes as far as the West Coast and in other parts of the world.

Nutritive Value per 100 gram of Kangkong


Water                           90.2 g
Protein                          3.0 g
Fat                                0.3 g
Carbohydrates              5.0 g
Fiber                             1.0 g
Ash                               1.6 g
Calcium                        81.0 mg
Magnesium                  52.0 mg
Fe  (iron)                      3.3 mg
Pro Vitamin A           4000-10000 IU
Vitamin C                     30.0 – 130.0 mg
Energy Value               134.0 kJ

The many dishes of Kangkong

 Cook the leaves by topping them on boiled pork or prawns as in “sinigang” or on fish “Tinola”. Stems are sautéed in oil, stirred in vinegar and soy sauce. You may add a dash of sugar, red hot pepper, some shrimp paste and chunks of pork or thinly-sliced tofu to complete what we call “ Adobong Kangkong” or “Apan-Apan”.


Other dishes we can find in popular restos and hotels are:  fried kangkong leaves in egg; ginataang spicy hot kangkong (which recipe I am going to share with you on my next blog), bas-oy, and many more.

You can try the recipe above by following the simple cooking instructions below:

½ kl  young kangkong leaves and stems, concentrate on cutting the upper part (wash carefully);

Boil the cut kangkong until tender;

Remove the vegetables from the hot water, drain;

Heat the wok with ½ cup cooking oil –choose a cholesterol free brand ( a little more oil makes the taste yummier);

Sautee  ½ teaspoon or sliced ginger, 4 cloves crushed garlic and one regular piece of thinly sliced onion until golden brown. Add ¼ cup of small slices of soft pork and ¼ cup of fried tofu while continuously tossing the sautéed spices, pork and tofu , continue cooking until pork becomes tender;

 Cover the pan until aroma of the sautéed vegetables, meat and spices comes out;

Mix one tablespoon soy sauce or fish sauce. Add one tablespoon vinegar;

Season to taste. Add a dash of seasoning (as desired), and a dash of sugar. (I was taught by a chef friend to always sprinkle a dash of sugar preferably brown) to any dish you cook if you are using vinegar on it);

Remove from pan. Place sautéed shrimp paste as topping.


 Wash ½ cup shrimp paste and drain.

Sautee shrimp paste in 2 cloves sliced ginger and ½ teaspoon crushed garlic.

Place shrimp paste, at the same time cooking the paste and spices until it becomes sticky .

Cut ½ teaspoon fresh, red, finger chilli. Mix with the shrimp paste. Continue cooking until aroma from chilli blends that of the shrimp paste.

Remove from pan and place on top of sautéed kangkong.













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