Morning Glory with Taucheo


Morning glory has many aliases: 空心菜, kong xing cai, eng chai, ong choy, water spinach, kangkung... It grows quickly in water and wet soil, and is related to those pretty ornamental flowers in your neighbor’s front yard. The Chinese name translates to “hollow-heart vegetable,” which describes the crunchy stems that contrast so nicely with the slippery leaves. At nearly every sit-down meal in Bangkok’s Chinatown (Yaowarat), I would order morning glory stir fried with the Teoswa soybean sauce taucheo, lard, garlic, and chilies, a preparation that is popular throughout the Southeast Asian Chinese diaspora — and for good reason. It takes under 15 minutes to wash, trim, and cook, and the balance of flavors appeals to even picky eaters. When selecting greens at the store, choose a bundle with slender stems and unblemished leaves. If you want to scale up this recipe, stir fry in multiple batches so you don’t crowd the pan.

Serves 2-3 with other dishes

  • 3/4 lb morning glory
  • 1.5 tbsp taucheo (soybean sauce)
  • 3 bird’s eye chilies
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsp lard or oil
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  1. Morning glory stems are often long and unwieldy. Trim them into 4-inch segments (I use kitchen scissors, but a knife is fine too) and swish in a big bowl of water to clean. Lift morning glory stems out of the water to leave any dirt behind, and pat dry.
  2. Mix together the taucheo, fish sauce, Shaoxing rice wine, and chilies. For a milder dish, leave the chilies whole; for more heat, chop them up. 
  3. Heat lard/oil in wok over high heat. Add garlic and stir fry for 15 seconds. Add morning glory and sauce mixture, stir frying to evenly distribute. Cover and let cook for a minute, then stir fry another 15 seconds until just cooked through but still bright green. Turn off heat.
  4. Taste and add more fish sauce as needed. Plate and serve.
VegetablesDiana Zheng