Minced Pork and Kang Kong

Pork and kang kong

Minced pork and kankong

Adobong kang kong is much like the above recipe but you add about 1/4 cup of vinegar


This was dinner Thursday night and it was easy and pretty tasty. I just read over the above three recipes and then I did this:
Garlic cloves, 3 or 4, start browning in oil

half of a large yellow onion, minced, brown in the oil with garlic

one pound ground pork

about a tablespoon each fish sauce (or soy sauce) and oyster sauce, and about 1/4 cup of vinegar.  Brown together with the pork.

When the pork is brown all the way through, add about 1-2 cups of kang kong stems- you could try thin matchstick slices of bok choy just cooked to crisp tender, or perhaps some very young, fresh green beans.  Many suggest subbing spinach, and while the textures are the same, the flavours are decidedly *not.*

Stir in 1-2 cups of kang kong leaves.  Stir just until wilted then serve.

I ate mine as is with pepper added (fish sauce is salty so you don’t need more salt).   You could serve with rice.


With pictures and more comments:

Minced 4 or 5 cloves of garlic

Put them in some oil in my wok.  I peeled an onion, and cut it in half, and then turned on the stove burner to brown the garlic while I diced half of an onion (it was a large yellow one).

I added the diced onion to the wok, and simmered the onion and garlic while I cut up the kang kong. You separate the leaves and then cut the stems.

Here are the leaves- kind of shaped like arrowheads:

I pulled off all the leaves and put them to one side and then I put about a pound of minced (ground) pork in the skillet with a tablespoon or two of oyster sauce and about the same amount of fish sauce (here in the Philippines it’s called Patis), and some vinegar.  The vinegar is what makes this adobong.  Vinegar is a common ingredient in meat dishes here, because of the warm climate and lack of refrigeration. It hinders the growth of bacteria and stops food from spoiling. It’s also good for your digestive tract.

I tried flipping this pic, but wordpress won’t let me.

Vinegar here is puti (white), and usually made from cane sugar. If you want apple cider vinegar it costs more.  Puti was one of our recent vocabulary words.  Philipinos and Americans think about race differently, and it’s really been driven home to me just how kneejerk reactive some of our training here is.  In our language lessons puti was a recent vocabulary word, and the example used in a sentence was “Mga Americanos ang puti.”  Americans are white.   She wrote it out and asked us to read it aloud in English, and my husband and I just looked at each other for a second.  I know we both thought, “We can’t say that!”  It felt appalling.  But you know, most of the Americans here are Caucasian.  Most Americans in the U.S. are caucasian (over 60% if you take out the hispanics who say they are white, over 77% if you include the hispanics who identify as white).   Why is that so hard to say?  There is something really, really wrong with our culture when a simple statement of observable fact, even if a bit fuzzy and too generalized around the edges, feels like saying something bad.  But back to cooking.

While the pork/onion/garlic mixture continued to brown, I cut up the kang kong stems, which are hollow and crisp but tender, not at all tough or chewy, and not stringy..

The stems are thicker than the leaves, so they need to be added first.  You want to know a substitute for kang kong, and I would love to give you one, but it’s tough.  I had my son and husband taste the leaves and stems and tell me what they tasted like, and we couldn’t really come up with a good comparison.  Raw, the leaves are very mild, with the texture of butter lettuce and the flavor of maybe a very mild green or red lettuc.  The stems tasted like grass.  Cooked the way I like them, crisp tender, they were mildly sweet and very delicious- they might be a bit like a combination of very young and tender fresh green beans and bok choy stems sliced thin. Or perhaps asparagus stems hardly cooked at all, but more crispy crunch while still still tender?  The cooked leaves are good but don’t have a strong flavour.  It’s kind of the texture of spinach, but spinach can have a strong or bitter aftertaste, adn these don’t.  My son really hates cooked greens and he didn’t mind eating these.

So once the pork was browned all the way through, I put in the cut up stems and stirred over high heat until they just started to get really bright green, and then I added the leaves and stirred a couple more times and called it done (the leaves cook really fast):

I added some pepper to mine.  Patis (fish sauce) here is pretty salty, so I didn’t add salt.

I tried to rotate this pictures, but the blog just quit running every time I did that, so sideways will have to do (I think it’s my pathetically weak wifi).    This recipe was liked by all of us, and it was pretty quick and easy to make.  Also, the Cherub can eat it because we didn’t use soy sauce.  In the states oyster sauce is often sweetened with corn syrup, but that is not a common sweetener here.

It was also really inexpensive to make.


I think the leftovers would be good inside dumplings (mandu) or as turnovers.

Kang kong is known as water spinach, but it isn’t really a spinach at all.

Ipomoea aquatica is a semiaquatic, tropical plant grown as a vegetable for its tender shoots and leaves. It is found throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, although it is not known where it originated.”

You shouldn’t eat it raw, at least not in most parts of Asia.  It also grows in some parts of the U.S., imported by Asian immigrants.  It’s an invasive species in some areas, but it seems to stay where it belongs in Texas.

There is a kangkong tempura I really, really love, but haven’t made because the leaves do not seem big enough to make it worthwhile, and it’s too hot to make tempura anyway.  We found a buffet just a few blocks from us that serves native Filipino food, all you can eat for just around five dollars a person, and they usually discount the Cherub without us asking. They serve this crispy kangkong and I pretty much fill up on that and their buko (coconut) water based punch.   I will nibble a few other things, but the crispy kang kong is so, so good.  Mmm.


More about kang kong here.


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