Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Special kangkung edition!

Our country has the potential to be a wonderful place to live… utopian, even.

Sort of like the USS Enterprise.

Registration number NCC-1701-D.

Except, the way things are, we’re living in a nightmare alternate reality where the bridge has been hijacked by thugs and robbers, who have the reasoning ability of rabid dogs, the cultural refinement of shit-flinging monkeys and the avariciousness of a Ferengi ‘acquisition crew’ intent on stripping the ship bare.

Worse, security officers seem to all have been replaced by rempits in uniform, wielding truncheons and tear gas against protesting crewmembers every bit as gleefully and belligerently as their masters do with senseless statements on the shipwide comm system.

Things look bleak indeed. But hey, at least the replicator can now make kangkung for cheaper!

And is suddenly also coin-operated, for some reason.

There’s been plenty of noise made online, of course, but obviously this is not really about kangkung. But people much smarter and more eloquent and better-informed than I am have explained this repeatedly, so I figured I might as well just have some fun with this kangkung thing while it’s still got people talking.

At the very least, it’ll help get my mind off the fact that the ship’s current trajectory is taking us on a direct collision course with a moon.

Okay, okay, I’m done making political commentary veiled in a gossamer-thin layer of nerdiness.

Let’s get back on topic.

On to our celebration of the vegetable du jour. Here are some interesting and tasty ways to enjoy kangkung – some, admittedly, more experimental/unconventional than those you may be used to.

Claypot kangkung
This is one of the signature dishes at Wun Nam, a Chinese restaurant in Damansara Perdana. It has a very subtle smokiness and also a tiny hint of heat from the dried chillies. A pretty good kangkung dish if you want something a little different from the usual kangkung stir-fried in sambal belacan.

Photo courtesy of their Facebook page because we forgot to take a picture when we had this dish.
Something interesting about this place – it seems to be a typical tai-chow joint serving up rice and dishes as well as one-dish meals. It has no air-conditioning, and kopitiam-style tables and chairs.

Yet several elements indicate that it is more of a higher-end restaurant. For one, it has a trophy featuring a golden spatula-and-ladle set on prominent display so it’s won a culinary award of some sort. Not sure which award because I don’t read Chinese. Also, it is able to serve multi-course Chinese banquets (probably at nicer-looking premises elsewhere?) – including those RM888-type banquet sets for Chinese New Year and a special sturgeon banquet that costs about RM1000 a head.

Anyway, service is always great and friendly, and food is good and reasonably-priced. Good place to check out if you happen to be in the neighbourhood.

Deep-fried kangkung
We had this one at Fat One – my favourite lok-lok truck brand. Usually, the kangkung skewers are just blanched, but if you request it, the lok-lok man will brush the kangkung with teriyaki sauce, coat it in flour and then dunk it in boiling oil.

This is what you end up with when it’s done.
It’s delicious! Its outer layers are fragrant and crunchy, with a slight bitterness similar to the kind you get from deep-fried shallots or garlic. Inside, you still get the moist crunchiness of boiled kangkung. Add their spicy chilli sauce and it’s heaven on a stick.

Kangkung soup
This is a Western-style soup made by boiling kangkung till cooked, then blending it with a little butter. I basically used Gordon Ramsay’s broccoli soup recipe and substituted broccoli with kangkung.

It’s so simple even I didn’t manage to mess it up.

It’s actually not bad, and tasted a little like the broccoli soup… except, well, more kangkung-ish.

Sotong kangkung
Had this one at the Medan Selera at SS2. A little steep at RM15, but it was pretty good.

Nothing much to say about this one. A typical kangkung dish that pretty much everyone has tried.

This is what the dish looked like when it arrived.
With prices going up for everything except kangkung, this is probably a more accurate representation of a sotong kangkung dish that you order in the future.

Mashed kangkung
Not to be outdone by my kangkung soup, Lady Fartsalot found this Indian recipe for mashed kangkung online. It is much more complex, with all sorts of ingredients that include coriander seeds, mustard seeds, shallots and what not. Obviously, she’s better-suited to making this than I am.

And here it is in all its pasty, green glory.
It is very mild and creamy, and tastes a little sambal-ish probably due to the shallots and chilli in it. I think it would make a tasty and healthy dip for chips instead of the typically cream cheese-heavy preparations favourite by Western recipes, or a nice spread on sandwich bread instead of butter or mayonnaise.

Well, that’s enough kangkung for now. We actually ate everything on this list (except the claypot kangkung) within a 4-hour period. It’s been interesting, but I think we will be staying away from the stuff for about a week or two.

If you have any interesting new ways to enjoy kangkung, do share in the comments below.

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