Known as “kangkung” in Indonesia, Morning Glory is an extremely popular and common vegetable known for its tender shoots and younger leaves. This leafy green has many uses in Indonesian and Southeast Asian cuisine.
- Ipomoea aquatica (scientific name)
- Water spinach
- Water morning glory
- ผักบุ้ง / pak boong (Thai)
- Kangkung (Indonesian/Malaysian)
- Rau muống (Vietnamese)
- Ong choy (Cantonese)
- 空心菜 / kōng xīn cài (Mandarin)
What is Morning Glory?
Morning Glory is an extremely popular and common vegetable in Southeast Asian countries. The vegetable is known for its tender hollow shoots and long pointed leaves.
Morning Glory is commonly cultivated in Southeast Asia, East Asia, and South Asia where it is warmer and receives more rain, as it grows abundantly near waterways and requires little to no care.
It grows so well, in fact, that it’s actually illegal in most states because it is considered an invasive species. Until recently, morning glory was illegal to sell, but this leafy green is finally unbanned in some places.
What Does Morning Glory Taste Like?
Morning Glory or also known as “water spinach” is not technically or scientifically related to spinach. As for the taste, it shares some similarities with regular spinach but has a little less earthy flavor and more sweetness. The leaves have a very pleasant, mild, sweet flavor and the hollow stems are crunchy and great at absorbing flavor.
How to Choose
You can find Morning Glory in large bunches in Asian grocery stores. Look for those with long, straight, slender stalks with vibrant to dark green leaves and stems. Avoid those that look wilted and yellowish. Also, avoid those with insect holes and blemishes.
How to Store
Morning Glory is a relatively delicate vegetable, so it must be cooked within 1-2 days of purchase for the best results. It is important to store the vegetable in the refrigerator until right before it is cooked. You can store the unwashed Morning Glory in the plastic bag it came in and store it in the crisper section of the refrigerator.
Cooking with Morning Glory
Morning Glory can be stir-fried, steamed, boiled, or sauteed with a variety of sauces and served as a side dish. You can eat both the leaves and stems. To prepare, you must wash it, trim the lower stalk, and cut it into 4-inch length pieces.
The vegetable is generally cooked in a minimal time, just enough to wilt it. Like spinach, the leaves cook rather quickly and reduce a lot in volume. When it is cooked well, the vegetable will turn vibrantly green and absorbs the flavors from the aromatics it is cooked with.
- Morning Glory Stir Fry