Archive for June 26th, 2008

I woke up one morning and felt like I just haven’t been cooking enough asian dishes, especially Malaysian dishes. Yes…yes…I know…it’s kinda weird that a person would wake up and that’s the first thought she has! But it was indeed what was on my mind. I started asking myself was I really as un-Malaysian as most of my friends say? Or do I just not like Malaysian food? Or is it because my culinary skills are really that limited? Hhmmm…tough call…in the end, I decided it was not because I don’t like M’sian food…I do actually REALLY like M’sian food..but it was because cooking Asian food can sometimes be really time consuming and my skills are just limited…oh well…

Anyway, this here is a classic Malaysian favourite. I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like kangkung belacan! Even people who absolutely hate veg love this dish! Kangkung, known as water spinach, is a leafy green vegetable frown throughout tropical and subtropical countries, most commonly in South East Asia. It’s generally stir fried but can also be used in soups and salads. Belacan or shrimp paste is an essential ingredient in many curries and asian dishes. It’s made from fermented ground shrimp that has been sun-dried and then cut into rectangular blocks. Westerners would find the smell a little repulsive but trust me it enhances the flavour of your food when used appropriately. 

My dish here was made using mum’s special belacan chilli that she brought over for me. So honestly, I’m not too sure what the recipe is. But I think my sambal belacan recipe used for my nasi lemak is pretty similar to mum’s so here goes. We can’t often find kangkung in Hobart except for in Chinese Empo if you are really lucky. I was lucky I found mine during one of my Saturday Salamanca market  rounds and they were so much cheaper and fresher than the chinese empo ones. The key to this veg is to not keep it for too long. Try to cook it within the first couple days of purchase if not it loses its freshness and the stems are no longer crunchy.


  • Dried shrimps
  • Garlic
  • Kangkung
Sambal Belacan:
  • Shrimp paste
  • Dried chillies
  • Fresh chillies
  • Salt
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Lime juice
  • Mix sambal belacan ingredients in a food processor or if you have a pestle and mortar that would be better. 
  • Soak dried shrimps in some hot water so it softens a little. Chop it up roughly.
  • Mince garlic and wash the kangkung and set aside.
  • Heat a wok on high heat and add some oil. 
  • Add garlic and sambal and stir-fry till fragrant. Toss in the kangkung and fry it well.
  • Dish up and serve hot with rice.


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