Kong Xin Cai 空心菜 (Water Spinach)

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Kong Xin Cai 空心菜 (Water Spinach)

Kong Xin Cai 空心菜 (Water Spinach).  This vegetable is most commonly eaten by East and Southeast Asian.  It is semiaquatic tropical plant found throughout tropical and subtropical regions of the world.  It has long, jointed and hollow stems, which allow the vines to float on water or creep across muddy ground.

The leaves have a very pleasant, mild, sweet flavor and a slightly slippery texture, which contrast when cooked with the crispness of the stems.  Like many other leafy vegetables, water spinach’s leaves are very nutritious, being rich in vitamins and minerals.  They are also a mild laxative.  Water spinach deteriorates rapidly once picked, so if possible consumed immediately (Dept. of Environment and Primary Industries).  For more information regarding water spinach please visit the following website:  http://www.dpi.vic.gov.au/agriculture/horticulture/vegetables/vegetables-a-z/water-spinach-kangkong

There are numerous ways to cook this vegetables.  In Southern China, it is exclusively stir fry, the stir fry is quick and simple, either plain or with slices of garlic.  In Southeast Asia, this vegetables is commonly stir fry with chili pepper, garlic, ginger and other spices. You can put it in soup, make salads out of it, put it in curries etc.

Ingredients: (2-4 serving)
Water Spinach: 1 lb
Rice Wine (Sake or some kind of wine fermented from rice): 1 tbsp
Vegetable Oil: 3 tbsp
Sugar: 1 tsp
Water or Chicken stock: 2 tbsp
Sesame Oil: 1 tsp
Fish Sauce: 1 1/2 tbsp

Substitute for Fish Sauce:
Oyster Sauce
Red Bean Curd
Soy Sauce
Chicken Powder
Lard or pork fat


Step 1: Break the Water Spinach into 3-4 sections if it is long.

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Step 2: Wash 2-3 times to remove dirt.

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Step 3: Slice 6-7 cloves of fresh Garlic.

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Step 4: Preheat a large wok or pan until it is hot.

Water Spinach

Step 5: Add in 3 tbsp of Oil or Lard and add in the garlic with the fire on low so that it does not burn the garlic.

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Step 6: Cook the Garlic till fragrant then add in the Water Spinach and cook on high heat.

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Step 7: Stir fry until it begins to wilt, then add in Shao Xing Rice Wine or Sake, Fish Sauce (Substitutions), Sugar and Water or Vegetable Stock/Chicken Stock.  Continue to stir fry for about a minute or so.

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Step 8: Plate!

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  1. Pingback: Kong Xin Cai The Art Of Cooking

  2. Robert McMullen

    I’d been searching for what I had in China that was so delicious, finally found it. Yum. I made this and it was fantastic. This is truly the best way to eat vegatables. Much thanks!

    In Qinghai I had Yak butter kongxin cai which was even better than the standard. I think it might have left out some of the other ingredients too to let the butter flavor dominate. That is one other way to make it. Very delicious to my western tongue 😛

    In sichuan I had kongxin cai that had whole lajiao in it. Spicy, and very delicious too. I think adding a handful of lajiao with the garlic would accomplish this with no other changes.

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  3. Kong xin cai has been my favorite vegetable for many years. Your recipe “smartened up” my preparation and I turned out the best batch ever. Thank you so much!

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