Morning Glory How To Cook This Southeast Asian Staple

The beautifully named morning glory is a very popular variety of greens in Southeast Asian countries. It is added to main dishes, soups, and features as a side dish too
Morning glory is a water spinach with hollow and tender shoots.
Morning glory is a water spinach with hollow and tender shoots.

Morning glory, also known as water spinach, is a popular ingredient in Southeast Asian countries. It grows all over Southeast Asia and is a popular side dish for meals because it cooks up quickly and tastes good. In fact, a plate of stir-fried greens is an integral part of all family-style meals that have assorted dishes.

The Chinese name for morning glory translates to "hollow heart vegetable," as it is named after its hollow and crunchy stems. Other names include ong choy, pak boong, kang kong, and swamp cabbage. In Bengal, it is known as kalmi saag.

Cooking it as a side dish to get that wonderfully sweet and crunchy texture requires some skill. Here's a recipe to help you make it to perfection.

Morning Glory, Stir-Fried 

You will need

2 bunches of morning glory

6 cloves of garlic smashed

2 whole dry red chillies

Salt and pepper to taste

15 ml oil (sesame is good, or groundnut oil)

A wok (or a thin-bottomed pan)

A pair of chopsticks (or tongs)


Pour the oil into the wok and heat it. Once the oil is heated and ready, put the garlic and red chilies in and stir. Add the greens and stir. As soon as the leaves touch the hot oil, they should wilt. Just toss it around for two minutes and add salt and pepper just after turning the stove off. Give it a final stir and plate it to serve.

Pro tip Adding salt beforehand will make the greens water and they will lose their crunchy bite.

Recipe by Sachiko Seth, head chef at Blue Poppy Thakkali in Kolkata 

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