Chinese Water spinach is a long, leafy green vegetable with hollow stems that is grown in water or damp soil. It also goes by the name of ong choy in Cantonese or kōng xīn cài (空心菜) in Mandarin, which translates to “hollow heart vegetable”. It’s commonly known as Kang Kung in Southeast Asia, but in our family it’s known as the “hollow veggie”.
Chinese Water Spinach is sold in large bunches at the market. In fact, the stalks can get as long as eighteen inches. When cooking these Chinese vegetables, they are cut into 3-4 inch lengths and cooked with garlic and fermented bean curd or belacan shrimp paste. Surprisingly, even the hollow stems are quite tender as long as the lower 1-2 inches of the stalks are trimmed away. Recently, we saw young and tender water spinach in the market which is a delight to prepare and eat. Just give it a quick rinse–no trimming is needed since everything is tender and edible.