Kangkung Belacan

Kangkung Belacan

My mom used to make this dish all the time back home. Honestly, I’ve never made it for myself ever since being here in Sydney, except for today. On occasions though when I’d be eating out with friends in various Asian-Malaysian restaurants, I would come across this on their menu and MY GOODNESS were they overpriced! Like I get the whole profit making thing but honestly, it’s like more than a 500-600% profit for this simple dish! Mamak in Chinatown for example is priced at $14.00 while Delima Restaurant is priced at $17.95. I know Delima adds prawns to their kangkung, but seriously. Overall, if I totalled how much I spent for this dish, it would total to about $3.00 inclusive of all the ingredients, and naturally it’d be even cheaper back home. Here a bunch of kangkung averages to about $1.50 depending where you get it from, while back home you paid 99c for five bunches.

Kangkung, also known as ‘water spinach’, is a vegetable commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisines, mainly Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore where it is usually stir-fried in a chilli sauce. Kangkung is also evident in other Asian cuisines and I do recommend that you check out how else it can be used by going to wikipedia (I know, the whole conception of wikipedia not being a reliable source, but trust me). Belacan, or sambal belacan, basically consists of fresh red hot chillies, roasted Malaysian shrimp paste and lime, made into a paste or sauce to be used either as a condiment, or as an ingredient in cooking.

So for today’s recipe as titled: Kangkung Belacan (stir-fried water spinach with chillies and shrimp paste).

Kangkung Belacan



  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp sambal belacan*
  • 1 bunch kangkung, washed, leaves separated from the stems, and stems cut into short lengths
  • Handfull of small-sized ikan bilis (dried anchovies)

*I used a store bought paste, but you can always follow a recipe make your own.


  1. Heat oil in a medium frying pan over high heat. Add the ikan bilis and fry until crisp. Set aside.
  2. In the same pan, add the garlic and 1 of the sliced bird’s eye chilli and sauté until golden brown. Add in the onions and sauté until soft. Bring the heat down to low and then add in the sambal belacan, cooking the belacan over high heat will cause it to spit all over the stovetop and we don’t want to have a messy cooking area. Cover if needed. Sauté the belacan until fragrant.
  3. Add the the kangkung leaves, stems and a little bit of water to dilute the belacan you think can’t handle the heat. Cover until the leaves start to wilt. Toss around the belacan to coat the leaves and stems evenly (kangkung literally takes only a minute to cook).
  4. Transfer to a serving plate and top with the fried ikan bilis and fresh red chillies. Serve with hot rice.

Kangkung Belacan


– Ally xx



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