Helloooo! Just had to greet you with a big plate of good old Thai stir-fried morning glory or pad pak boong in your face because why not? 😬😬
Morning glory, also known as water spinach and pak boong in Thai, is the most amazing vegetable ever! I know I say this a lot, but this one is my (and many people's) absolute most favorite veggie. It's just so, so good in anything you put it in. And to be honest, I've never met anyone who doesn't like it!
Oh, and that's not all. Some other good things about morning glory are that it's low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals. Every Thai kid who went to a Thai school will have been told by their teachers that pak boong is great for their eyes. Normally we introduce this vegetable to kids when they're in kindergarten, but we make sure to cut it in small pieces so that it's easy for them to eat. To get us to start eating this leafy green vegetable, our parent or teacher would go - Turtles eat morning glory! If you want to live long like them, you have to eat this vegetable! I guess I wanted to live a bit too long because I've been obsessed with morning glory for as long as I can remember.
Now this Thai stir-fried water spinach is one of the most common Thai dishes that uses water spinach. You can get this at pretty much every restaurant and dtam sang (made to order) place in Thailand. It's the big sister of the Thai stir-fried water mimosa and a great alternative to the Thai holy basil chicken when you don't know what to order, HA! People like to order or make this dish with crispy pork belly. I think it's the best thing in the world, but I sometimes go for chicken, which works just as fine, when I don't feel like stepping into that...er...red alert bad zone.
Making this dish is super easy too! After you get a bunch of morning glory, just rinse and cut it however long you like. I find that it gets a bit messy when you eat if you cut it too long, so I like to cut mine into 4-cm pieces. To add flavor, we use crushed garlic and bird's eye chilies for this dish. Yes, you can crush the two at the same time and make your pad pak boong as garlicky or spicy as you like. This recipe is not super spicy, so you might want to start from there if it's your first time.
As far as seasoning goes, some Thais will keep it really simple by using just fish sauce and a tiny bit of sugar to round out the flavor, and that's great. However, I like to use salted soy bean paste and oyster sauce because my mother has always made it with these and I love it. I think the salted soy bean paste really helps make it a little bit more special. Also, I find that, with these ingredients, I don't need to use sugar to round out the flavor. That's something, isn't it?
Just some final notes before you go off on your morning glory journey... This dish is a stir-fry so you WILL need a little bit of oil. I mean, you could do it without oil but it definitely won't be as tasty. If you want to keep it healthy, use a healthy oil. If you want to make this Thai stir-fried morning glory vegan, simply replace the oyster sauce with soy sauce.
This dish is best served right off the stove. Otherwise, you'll end up with sad soggy morning glory, and that's not nice. So, be sure to cook it when you're ready to eat and serve it with steamed rice or plain rice porridge.
Have a glorious time cooking morning glory, beautiful people!
Thai Stir-Fried Morning Glory or Water Spinach | Pad Pak Boong Recipe
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 4 cloves garlic crushed
- 6 bird's eye chilies crushed
- 400 grams morning glory rinsed and cut into 4-cm lengths
- 1½ tablespoons salted soy bean paste
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- Heat oil in a wok over high heat.
- Add garlic and chilies and stir for 10 seconds.
- Add morning glory. Season with salted soy bean paste and oyster sauce. Stir-fry for a minute before removing from heat. Serve immediately with rice or plain rice porridge.
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