Kong Xin Cai, also known as Chinese Water Spinach, or directly translated into “Empty Heart Vegetable” due to it’s long and hollow stems, are in season! I have mentioned this vegetable a few times already, but it wasn’t until a trip home that I got to watch my mom cook it up step-by-step. Chinese and Taiwanese vegetables like Kong Xin Cai, Bok Choy, Chinese Broccoli and Pea Vines are traditionally stir fried or sauteed alone in some oil and seasoning sauce or aromatic herbs.
So, this is how it’s done at home.
These vegetables are more popular in the summer time, and can be found at Asian grocery stores. Cut off the last inch or two of the hard stem, and wash the rest thoroughly to get rid of anything hiding in the long leaves. Cut the stems into two inch long pieces, and the leaves into three or four inch pieces.
Heat a pan to medium high, and add high heat oil, garlic and the below Shallot Sauce (or any other type of flavoring sauce you like to use, such as Oyster Sauce, soy sauce, etc.). The amount of oil and aromatic you add will depend on the amount of vegetable you plan to cook. If I am cooking two servings, I would start with three tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of sauce.
This can be purchased at Asian/Chinese grocery stores.
Start by cooking the stems only, as they take a few minutes longer to wilt. Cook them for two to three minutes alone.
Add the leaves, and sprinkle a healthy serving of salt. The amount depends on your taste, but I would add one to two teaspoons for a two serving dish.
Continue to stir fry for another five minutes, or until the leaves have wilted and the stems are a little springy to the touch.