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One of the most common, everyday vegetables you can come across in any Filipino grocery’s vegetable section is kangkong. Also known as water spinach, this leafy green with tender shoots is a godsend to many kitchens across the country. This is because there are so many ways to enjoy kangkong! Whether in stir fries or salads or sides to beloved meaty dishes, kangkong is adaptable and delicious. Not to mention it’s got a bunch of health benefits and nutrients that’ll keep your body growing and strong. Today, we’ll be introducing you to yet another quick but enjoyable dish you can use this green in. We’re talking about none other than the kangkong and ground pork with oyster sauce stir fry!
Kangkong and Ground Pork with Oyster Sauce Stir fry vs. Adobong Kangkong
Right off the bat, you may be wondering how this dish differs from adobong kangkong. At first glance the components may seem uncannily similar: water spinach in a savory, umami sauce combination. But the similarities between adobong kangkong and kangkong and ground pork with oyster sauce stir fry end there. Although they may have similar flavor palates, what makes up the two dishes is actually quite different.
For starters, we must talk about the marinade behind adobong kangkong. To adobo something in Filipino cuisine means to marinate it in a mix of soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic. Occasionally, bay leaves will also be included to add an extra depth of flavor. The result of making adobong anything is a dish that is a combination of sweet, salty, and slightly tangy. This is in contrast to our kangkong and ground pork with oyster sauce. In this dish, the main source of our marinade is oyster sauce alone. Thick and rich, this sauce is, like in adobo, a combination of salty, savory, and slightly sweet. There’s a hint of fishiness that you get from the oysters themselves, but it partners perfectly with your water spinach.
Another difference between adobong kangkong and the kangkong and ground pork with oyster sauce is the presence of ground pork itself. Usually when we say adobong kangkong, we often picture the vegetable on its own, or at the very least topped with some fried garlic. But our recipe today is much heartier! The presence of ground pork makes your kangkong and ground pork with oyster sauce more filling and satisfying. You can have it as a side dish or even eat it on its own! There is a version of adobong kangkong that uses crispy fried pork, too — this is an Ilonggo rendition of the dish, known as apan-apan.
How to make this Kangkong and Ground Pork with Oyster Sauce Stir Fry
- As an optional start: Fry your garlic. The first step in this recipe is optional, but if you like an extra crunch to your dishes be sure to follow it! We begin by slowly frying your garlic pieces in oil until you get a beautiful golden brown color. Your heat should never go past medium, otherwise your garlic may end up burnt. When it reaches a shade you’re happy with, separate the garlic from the oil and set it aside. But don’t throw your oil out yet; we’ll be using it for the stir fry! Note that you don’t have to use all the garlic you’ve fried for this dish alone, and you can keep the rest for any other recipes you may whip up.
- Sauté your onions and ground pork. In 3 tablespoons of the same oil, sauté your onions until they soften. Once they do, you can add your ground pork. For this recipe, we’re using a quarter of a pound. Sauté for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until you get a light brown color on your pork.
- Add oyster sauce and kangkong. Pour in 3 tablespoons of oyster sauce and a quarter cup of water. Stir these together and let it cook until you’ve let the water evaporate completely. The water helps to lessen the thickness of your oyster sauce, making it less gooey in texture. After this, add your kangkong and a portion of the garlic you’d fried prior. Since it’s a stir fry dish, you need only cook it for a little while; one minute should be enough. Here’s another tip: If you like your kangkong and ground pork with oyster sauce stir fry a little saucier, you can add a bit more water! Half a cup additional should do.
- Finishing touches. With all your ingredients in the pan, the finish line is definitely in sight! After seasoning with salt and ground black pepper, you can turn the heat off the stove. Transfer your kangkong to a serving plate and top it with more browned garlic — and just like that, you’re done!
Once you serve it with warm rice, your dish is ready to be shared and enjoyed! Dig in!
Other Kangkong Recipes
If you’re on the prowl for other ways of using kangkong in your kitchen, here are some options that might tickle your fancy!
- For one, you can opt to keep it simple and serve your kangkong with bagoong, or shrimp paste. Although it may be an acquired taste for some, the umami-ness of the bagoong breathes life and flavor into your water spinach. This is an appetizer at many Asian restaurants and is beloved for its simplicity but strong flavors. With garlic, soy sauce, shrimp paste and kangkong, you already have a tasty starter on your hands!
- If you’re in the mood for something heartier, I recommend this monggo with kangkong at hibi. For those wondering, hibi refers to small dried shrimps that work well with mung beans. This version of ginisang monggo is more cost-efficient and inexpensive than your usual recipe, but it tastes just as delicious! Kangkong provides a great support in both texture and flavor, balancing out the starchiness of your mung beans and the crispy shrimp. Seasoning it with patis and pepper at the end definitely adds more flavor, too.
- Lastly, for those who want a tasty but healthy snack, I recommend making crispy kangkong. Deep frying your water spinach leaves after dredging them through eggs and flour gives them an addictive crunch, much like potato chips! You can serve them with garlic mayonnaise, sweet chili sauce, or whatever dip you wish. Whatever you do serve it with, it’s sure to be an easy, yummy party hit!
Additional and Alternative Ingredients
Did you enjoy this kangkong and ground pork with oyster sauce stir fry? Or did you try to make it but don’t have some of the ingredients on hand? Don’t worry! You can still enjoy this delicious dish using alternative or additional ingredients; it’ll still taste as delicious!
- One of the more adaptable ingredients in this recipe is the ground pork. You can substitute this component with any protein you wish, whether it’s chicken, fried pork, or even tofu! In some instances, people also enjoy stir fried kangkong with squid balls! Adjust this recipe however you like, and to your own preference — including when it comes to which main meat you’ll be using.
- As for the kangkong leaves themselves, other greens like spinach or kamote leaves make a great substitute. You still get that leafy texture with the tender shoots from both options, making them easy replacements. Not to mention, just like kangkong, they’re fairly affordable too!
- Brown the garlic by slowly frying it in oil until it turns golden brown. Do this by heating the oil in a pan. After around 20 seconds, add the crushed garlic. Stir and fry using a low to medium heat setting until it browns. Separate the garlic with the oil. Set aside. Note: This is an optional step. The browned garlic can be used as a topping or condiment for this dish and for other dishes too.
- Using 3 tablespoons of the oil used to fry the garlic, Saute the onion until it softens.
- Add the ground pork. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes or until the pork turns light brown.
- Add oyster sauce and water. Stir and cook until the water evaporates completely.
- Put the water spinach stalks into the pan. Stir fry for 2 minutes.
- Add the water spinach leaves and a portion of the browned garlic. Cook for 1 minute. Note: you may add up to ½ cup of water if you like this with a bit of sauce.
- Season with salt and ground black pepper. Arrange on a serving plate and top with more browned garlic.
- Serve with rice. Share and enjoy!
- Water spinach is known as “Kangkong” in the Philippines.
- Ground chicken and ground beef can be used as alternative ingredients to ground pork.