Kangkung belacan is a favourite stir fry vegetable dish found in local eateries in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Kangkung, as it is known in the Malay language is a leafy vegetable which thrives in humid and warm countries. Also known as Chinese water spinach, this vegetable is widely found in the region. Addition of the pungent and flavour-packed fermented shrimp paste delivers the umami flavour besides spiciness from the dried chillies. This method of stir-frying vegetables is a great twist to the basic method as it is more flavourful.
This style of stir-frying vegetables with chilli and shrimp paste is well known and Chinese water spinach is usually used. Besides kangkung, french beans, ladies' fingers and sweet potato leaves also goes well with belacan. When using french beans or ladies' fingers, the cooking time would be slightly longer as these vegetables need time to soften.
There are many types of fermented shrimp paste throughout Southeast Asia. The specific type of fermented shrimp paste found in Malaysia and Singapore is known as belacan. It is made up of tiny shrimps known as krill which are fermented, fried and then shaped into blocks. If you are unable to find belacan, opt for other shrimp paste such as terasi (Indonesian) or kapi (Thai).
Enjoy kangkung belacan as a side dish with warm white rice. it will definitely perks up your appetite.
Kangkung Belacan is also known as: Kangkong belacantumis kangkung terasi
Discard about an inch of the Chinese water spinach stems. Then, cut the vegetables into ca. 6cm lengthwise. Rinse the stems and leaves separately.
Soak dried shrimps and dried chillies in separate bowls for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, toast shrimp paste in a dry pan over medium heat. Remove it once it begins to smoke. Blend or pound dried shrimps, dried chillies and garlic cloves into a paste. Lastly, add shrimp paste and mix into the chilli paste evenly.
Heat oil in a pan at medium heat. Once the oil is heated, add chilli paste to the pan and sauté until the oil separates from the paste.
Increase heat to the highest. Add water and Chinese water spinach stems into pan. Once the gravy begins to boil, add the leaves of the water spinach and continue to toss until they are cooked evenly. Add salt to taste.