I did not bother to post any of my stir fried vegetables dishes initially. Afterall, we eat this thing every meal and there’s really nothing to it. But I realized, maybe my children want to know how I did it. So here it is. One of Singapore’s most famous dishes, the sambal kang kong.
My first taste of this sambal kang kong was in the late 1980s or so. I am not sure if that was the time this dish appeared on the Zi Char (煮炒 or stir fry）stall menus around Singapore, or I dared eat it only then because I had ‘grown up enough’ to eat spicy food. I am not very good with very hot and spicy food especially as a child, because I have a weak stomach. But I do like medium spicy food. Yet, I guess medium spicy to a Singaporean is super spicy to a Westerner.
We used to order this dish at the Seafood centers along East Coast Parkway, as the local Zi Char stalls did not have this yet. In the 1980s and early 90s, we could get good seafood only if we traveled all the way to East Coast. There are perhaps one or two stalls around Punggol with good seafood, while the rest provided inferior (but not bad) quality seafood.
Therefore, it was a treat and a date to go to these specialized seafood places along that stretch, and a place to bring overseas business partners to show off our fresh seafood. These days, we can get really fresh and good seafood in any restaurant or at any Zi Char stall, and some of the restaurants that had their humble beginnings at East Coast have spread their wings and opened up branches at the swanky and expensive areas around Singapore.
While I like the taste of this dish, I don’t like the way most stalls drench their vegetables in the sambal which is covered in oil, making the dish incredibly oily. I like mine with less oil, the vegetables still bright green, and without water added.
2 bunches of Kang Kong, cut into finger length (one bunch = enough to hardly hold all the stalks together with one grip)
1 Tbsp Sambal Mixture (omit if children cannot take spicy, hot food)
2 Tbsp Cooking Oil
Salt to taste
2 Chilies (or as many as you like)
6 cloves Garlic
10 small shallots or 1 big onion
2 Tbsp Dried Prawns (soaked for 15 minutes and drained)
- Grind the sambal mixture, you may need a tablespoon if grinding is difficult in your grinder.
- Heat up a wok/pot with 2 Tbsp of the cooking oil.
- Cook the sambal mixture at medium to high heat until the oil floats on top (15 minutes).
- Add the kang kong stalks, and fry for a minute.
- Add the leaves and stir until water from the vegetables can be seen on the wok/pot, probably takes another minute or two.
- Add the oyster sauce, give it a quick stir.
- Serve with hot, steamed rice.