Saturday, March 21, 2009

Coconut Kangkong Stems

title
Stems. Ends. Odd bits. Leftovers. Overlooked and misunderstood things. Often chucked into the bin for lack of a better idea. Well let me tell you, one man’s trash is this girl’s treasure! I’ve always loved end bits and odd things. The end part of a roast beef carving where the fat and meat have caramelized into an almost-burnt butt of goodness. The rind of a hard hunk of cheese which I save scrupulously to toss into a pot of soup. Pig’s ears. The sugary edges of brownies and cookies (I’m sure I’m not the only one here). The grub at the bottom of the pan. Celebrities who seem beyond all hope. I love them all.

In truth, I’ve been a bit of a scavenger all my life. As a child I used to collect old receipts with much relish and excitement, going through them and filing them away like they were documents of utmost importance. Now, I collect leftovers (even the tiniest bits!), bones, veggie stems and trimmings, the oil that renders when I fry bacon or chorizo – all are tucked away in the freezer until the time comes when inspiration, or necessity, hits and they come out to be reborn.

This dish is not technically made with leftovers – the long stems of kangkong (water spinach) are usually used in the same dishes as the leaves. I do feel though that there is something sadly afterthought-ish about them – like they were only used because their leaves were used and “saying naman” (what a waste) if we tossed out their stems (which make up more than half the plant!). So in save-the-underdog fashion, I set out to make a dish where the stems played the starring role (and the leaves became the afterthought) :)

This is inspired by a local dish called Gising Gising (which literally translates to something like “Wake up, wake up!”) which typically uses green beans (string beans or what we call “Baguio beans”) sliced thinly and cooked with coconut milk and chilli (I am assuming the chilli is supposed to be the wake-up call). It is usually flavoured with patis (fish sauce) and some powdered seasoning (Maggi or Knorr or whatever), but I decided to use bagoong (shrimp paste) instead because I think it works much better with kangkong.


title
Coconut Kang Kong Stems
  • Stems from one bunch of kangkong, sliced thinly (roughly 1 1/2 cups when sliced as pictured on top)
  • 2-3 pieces sili pangsigang/sili mahaba (long green chilli), sliced on the diagonal quite thickly (I slice it this way so some poor unsuspecting diner does not mistake it for the kangkong)
  • One small red onion, chopped finely
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cm piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 1-2 rounded teaspoons of bagoong (shrimp paste)
  • 1/3 cup coconut cream
  • Canola or vegetable oil
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

- Heat the oil in a wok or skillet. Add onions, garlic, ginger, and chilli and sauté until onions are soft and everything is fragrant.
- Add kangkong stems and bagoong (shrimp paste) and toss. Sauté until kangkong stems are bright green.
- Add coconut cream, stir, and cook until the cream bubbles and kangkong stems are cooked. Season with freshly cracked black pepper.

Although this is a recipe for the stems, if you haven’t already used the kangkong leaves, and have them on hand, you can toss them in with the coconut cream and cook until wilted (which is actually what I did here). This is all about the stems though – letting this otherwise-considered-second-class part really shine as it is the crunch that gives this dish its engaging personality. The combination of shrimp paste, coconut milk, and chilli is something I borrow again and again from Bicolano cuisine (a region in the Philippines known for its liberal use of chilli and coconut milk!). And why not? It is a fantastic mix of richness, intense flavour, and heat that provides an exciting backdrop for our oft-neglected kangkong stems!

So don’t knock the odd bits and off-beats. Those unlikely suspects that are left at the corner of a serving platter, or the edge of a dance floor, may just be what you never knew you always wanted!

40 comments:

My Taste Heaven said...

Your recipes are always a surprise to me. I have added you to my blogroll so that I could know what you update time by time. Keep it up!!

Erin said...

That looks fantastic! What a great use for those stems. I am the same way, I hate wasting things and have gone to great lengths to avoid it since I was a kid. I am also a great lover of roasting pan crispies. Oh yeah.
Really enjoyed reading this!

Dave Jones said...

what a wonderful and lovely posting.that's great..very interesting.

Elyse said...

This dish sounds totally fantastic! I'm glad someone's sticking up for the "stems" and "afterthoughts." I'm totally with you--crusty edges and bottom-of-the-pan grub...they're awesome adn deserve their place on the kithcen table, too! So glad I found your blog!! It's so great!

Gattina said...

Jo, how could you turn humble looking kangkong stems to be a diva under your camera len? :D:D

ChichaJo said...

Hi My Taste Heaven! Thank you! :) Just making the best of what I have :)

Hi Erin! Glad you enjoyed the post! Yes, always important to avoid waste as much as we are able...especially in tough times! Those roasting pan crispies are awesome :)

Thanks Dave :)

Hi Elyse! Thanks for stopping by and for your nice comment :) Someone has to stand up for these “stems and afterthoughts”...and the rewards are quite yummy for doing so!

Hi Gattina! No magic or camera tricks there...they were really that great looking! :) Veggies can be very beautiful all by themselves :)

Trish said...

I was first drawn here by the kangkong dish (I love kangkong) and then later realised that you were from the Philippines too! :) Can I add you to my foodie links list? Thanks!

Shalum said...

looks really yummy! this is a really nice tip. maximize, maximize! thanks for sharing. nice shot :)

Watergirl said...

I always order this but haven't made it! The one in Via Mare has chicharon on top.

TINTIN said...

Wow, I'm gonna to try this...looks so yummy!! Thanks for the recipe! :D

Jude said...

Never heard of gising gising before. Kind of funny how some Filipino foods names need to be doubled up (sapin sapin, kare kare).

Manggy said...

Hee! The caramelized bits of brownies are the second best part! ;) And I do love me some healthy kangkong... It reminds me of the side dish they have in Mangan, where the stems are served as a sweet pickle... Yummy! The chili kick in gising gising sounds so appealing!

Anne said...

I love kangkong!Oo nga sayang kung itatapon :) Thanks for this brilliant idea of using kangkong stems.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Trish! Yup..from these wonderful tropical islands! :) Sure! Thank you!

Hi Shalum! Thanks :) It really is yummy...kangkong stems are underrated I think :)

Hi M! Chicharon...yum! I love gising gising and I think I like this version with the kangkong stems better than the one with Baguio beans!

Hi Tintin! Hope you enjoy it!

Hi Jude! Yup! I like how our food names make me smile :)

Hi Manggy! Oooh! I can imagine this as a sweet pickle...ok the wheels in my head are turning!

Hi Anne! You are welcome! :) I love kangkong too :)

Ling said...

Genius! This would be fabulous with some coconut rice and crispy dried anchovies... oooo can taste it now... !

veron said...

How I miss kangkong with bagoong. It is such a perfect side dish!

Marvin said...

Such a great use of those stems, joey. I love spicy food, but I have yet to really try making any Bicolano dishes. This will be a good start for me.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Ling! That sounds delicious! Please email me coconut rice recipe if you have one :)

Hi Veron! I think so too :)

Hi Marvin! This isn’t an actual Bicolano dish...I would say just done in the Bicolano style (with chilli and coconut milk!) ;) I love Bicolano food! It’s definitely one of my favourite regions here gastronomically :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I've never had kangkong, but this dish sure looks delicious! Wonderful!

Cheers,

Rosa

inadobo said...

You have some very interesting offerings here and your photography is amazing!

Hungry Dad said...

Cool this is a must try for me....That gives me a reason not to throw away my kangkong stem. Thank you!

The Nomadic Pinoy said...

I love Kang Kong but has never thought about the stem. What a great way to use something that otherwise would have been thrown out. Thanks for sharing!

Maya said...

Great use of bits and ends.

bee said...

they are so vibrant and beautiful!!! i found water spinach once in the chinese store and loved it. will look for it again.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Rosa! It’s quite a common vegetable here, and as such, very light on the pocket as well as being delicious :)

Hi Inadobo! Thank you! :)

Hi Hungry Dad! Yes! Veggies can also be eaten “nose to tail” ;)

Hello Nomadic Pinoy! Thanks you for stopping by and glad you liked the post!

Hi Maya! Thanks :)

Hi Bee! Glad you liked the water spinach you tried! Hope you find it again!

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

What a tres, tres cool use of kangkong stems. Brilliant.

ChichaJo said...

Hi JS! Thank you :)

Rasa Malaysia said...

Joey, this is very interesting. I never thought about making kangkong this way, just the stems, plus cut into such small cuts. Love it. BTW, didn't know that it's known as kangkong too in Filipino. :)

Foodfreak said...

I absolutely love kangkong (kangkung belacan comes to mind, and Thai curry with morning glory) and it would have never ocurred to me to use the stems in a dish of their own. Looks delicious!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Bee! Yes it is :) We have a lot in common :) Ever since I made this I love having the stems this way!

Hi Foodfreak! That kangkung belacan sounds delicious...I love Thai food :) The stems are very versatile!

FAD MOM said...

wow.. i've never never thought about stems from the Kangkung being useful at all. now that I've seen this, there is much hope.

i love the Kangkung so i'm going to try this. thanks for sharing!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Fad Mom! Hope you like it! I think kangkong stems are actually good in their own right...many ways to use them :)

JMom said...

Oh, I love this idea! I'll have to go try and find kangkong just so I can try this out. I've tried making gising gising with beans and I loved it!

I'm all about using every bit of anything :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Jmom! I love gising gising! Which is why I thought of using it as an inspiration for these kangkong stems :) It works perfectly! :)

Traci said...

LOVE water spinach! That looks really, really good...

And I'm SO with you on the crusty end of the roast! My mouth waters just thinking about it.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Traci! Me too! Hehe, every time there is a roast carving I am always vying for the crusty end piece!

sabs said...

i love gising gising! and i love breakfast too. great blog :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Sabs! Thank you! :) And thanks for stopping by :)

Nikkie said...

Oh thanks for this post! I'm a Bicolana in California who doesn't know how to cook, so this is a great start for me! I just recently bought kangkong too, not knowing what to do with it, but just wanting to feel like I can do something with it. Looking forward to more of your posts!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Nikkie! Thanks for stopping by a leaving a comment! I hope this recipe helps with your kangkong and I hope you enjoy it :)