Sambal Kangkong

Sambal kangkong (马来风光) is a popular zi-char dish in Singapore.  This recipe is a result of many attempts to replicate the taste of zichar-style sambal kangkong at home. After achieving this perfect taste (for my family), I have been cooking sambal veggies about twice a week! The best part of cooking kangkong (also known as water spinach or morning glory) at home is that it is so much cheaper, with a lot more veg on the plate.

See Also:

Kangkong (Water Spinach/Morning Glory)
Normally, my family is not too fond of the hollow stems of kangkong (also known as water spinach or morning glory). So I always look for the slimmer variety of kangkong with thinner stems (pictured above) which are available from time to time.

Sambal Kangkong Recipe
When cooked with the slimmer variety, all of the kangkong (stems and leaves) is soft and tender.

Instant Sambal Belacan Paste
And this is one small short-cut I used for this recipe: instant sambal belacan paste. Additional ingredients (dried shrimps & seasonings) are still required to make the taste good, but this short-cut is a huge time saver for me. If you have more time, you can use homemade sambal belacan to replace the instant sauce.

First posted on Nov 2010, updated recipe on Jul 2019.

Sambal Kangkong Recipe

If you prefer more tenderly cooked stems, choose the slimmer variety of kangkong (seasonal).

For a pleasant leaves-to-stems ratio, use only the top one-third or half of the stems.

This recipe works well with sweet potato leaf too.


  • one packet (about 250g) kangkong (aka water spinach, water morning glory)
  • 10g dried shrimp (虾米)
  • 3 tbsp (45 ml) hot water
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp cooking oil divided
  • 1 finger-length red chilli sliced to thin sections
  • 1 chilli padi sliced to thin sections for extra heat; only if needed
  • 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 4 shallots (or 1/4 small red onion) sliced thinly
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sambal belacan paste instant or home-made; to taste
  • 1/4 tsp Maggie seasoning sauce optional
  • tiny pinch of salt to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp water add more as needed
  • 1 tbsp Chinese wine (Hua Tiao/Shaoxing)


  1. Prepare kangkong. Using kitchen scissors, snipe & separate the kangkong leaves from the stems. Wash and dry the kangkong.
  2. Prepare dried shrimps. Soak dried shrimps in a small dish with hot water until softened, about 20 minutes. Reserve and set aside the dried shrimps soaking water.
  3. Prepared grinded spices. Add softened dried shrimps, garlic and shallots to an electric food grinder or blender. Add 1 tbsp oil and pulse for a few seconds. Alternatively, pound the ingredients in a mortar & pestle or finely chop them.
  4. Stir-fry the dish. Heat remaining oil in a wokpan. Stir-fry grinded spices for briefly until fragrant. Add kangkong stems and stir fry briskly on high heat until softened. Add kangkong leaves and dried shrimp soaking liquid. Stir fry until the leaves are reduced in volume. Then add sambal belacan paste, chillis, salt and water. Drizzle Chinese wine along the sides of the wok walls during the last 10 seconds of cooking. Stir to coat well before serving.