Pinoy Ulam Recipes With Kang Kong

Add kang kong to your ulam!

IMAGE Majoy Siason

The water spinach or more locally known as kang kong is the most common kind of leafy green many of us know. This is and has been the substitute used for many recipes. This is also the substitute used for those recipes that would otherwise use spinach in its recipe. Since kang kong is a member of the spinach family, it's the likely leafy green to use as a substitute. 

The kang kong is not only very easy to grow since it does so very rapidly, making it plentiful, but it's also easy to work with. The stems of the kang kong are all moderately tender, including the thicker stems that grow from the water, so it can be made edible. In fact, the kang kong is widely used in many dishes and its popularity is not limited to just the Philippines. It's as widely used in the cuisine of the rest of Southeast Asia, finding a place in Indonesian, Malaysians, and Chinese cuisine as it has in ours. 


If you ever wonder if the leafy greens you have in your possession is kang kong, you need to check the leaves and the stems. It looks similar to the talbos ng kamote and even spinach. Here's what you need to watch out for:

  • Kang kong leaves look like arrows. The leaves slightly flare from the pointed tips of the leaves towards the stem where it curls almost around the part where the stem meets the leaf, creating a narrow arrow shape.
  • Kang kong have long, hollow stalks and stems.  

If you want to learn how to use this leafy green for more than just a side dish, here are ulam recipes to try: 

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Photo by Roselle Miranda

1 Creamy Chicken Mushroom with Kang Kong Recipe

A creamy chicken dish is already pretty appetizing, so the addition of mushrooms and a splash of green from the kang kong can only make it even more irresistible. 

Photo by Stephanie Cueva

2 Spicy Kangkong And Tofu Stir Fry Recipe

This is basically your kang kong side dish made extra hearty and meaty thanks to the tofu or tokwa. It's a great ingredient in vegetable dishes since it is a meaty component that absorbs flavors well and pairs wonderfully with any vegetable. Try this sweet, spicy, and savory easy stir fry that combines tofu and kangkong in a delicious sauce. 


Photo by Mark Jesalva

3 Sinigang Recipes  

If there's one dish that can make anyone a kang kong fan, it has to be the sinigang na baboy sa sampaloc. The backdrop of sour soup and meaty tender bites of pork, hearty shrimps, and delicate fish pieces makes the kang kong a great veggie partner. Plus, the soup is so good having it squeeze itself in the hollow stems of the kang kong makes it extra tasty with every leafy piece you eat. 


Photo by Mark Jesalva

Gising-Gising with Kang Kong Recipe

Gising gising or ground pork with green beans in a spicy coconut sauce normally doesn't have any kang kong in it. The starring vegetable is the green bean. Sometimes it's sitaw or yardlong beans or even sigarilyas or the winged bean that is used. 


The addition of the kang kong in this recipe is especially unique because it's not the leaves that are used but the stems. Normally, the hardy stems are discarded while only the leaves and the tender stems close to the leaves are used in most dishes. This makes this a great dish to make after you've used up all the leaves in your sinigang or adobong kang kong dish. 

Photo by Dairy Darilag

5 Chorizo, Kang Kong, and Garbanzo Stew Recipe

The kang kong doesn't have to have a starring role for the dish to be a success. For this ulam recipe idea, the kang kong adds a delightful green leafy vegetable to a stew that might be lacking in that department. This stew is already chockful of ingredients so the kang kong is a great departure from the hearty chorizo and chickpeas.  

Photo by Majoy Siason

6 Apan-Apan Recipe 

Drop by Bacolod and you'll see a kang kong dish that looks familiar. One taste and you'll know it's not an adobong kang kong recipe. Instead, it's a kang kong recipe that instead of the usual soy sauce and vinegar, it uses a unique kind of bagoong from the bagoong alamang or shrimp paste that we are more familiar with. This bagoong is called ginamos and it's found in Bacolod palengkes in blocks, instead of as a paste.

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Feb 26, 2020


Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on by submitting your recipe here.

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