The gravy of this dish bears many similarities with laksa – it involves frying rempah, the addition of dried shrimp (haebee) that has been ground into a floss and the enrichment with coconut milk/ cream. The trio of prawn stock, haebee and belacan provides so much depth in terms of flavour and the assam (traditionally, assam skin is used) adds a slight tang that cuts through the richness of the gravy. Kang kong has a nice crunchy texture that is delicious, but I can see how silky sweet potato leaves would be equally delicious. Such a tasty vegetable-focused dish!
Kang Kong Masak Lemak
For the prawn stock:
2 tablespoons oil
Shells from 10 prawns
30g haebee (dried shrimp), soaked until soft (about 10 minutes)
40g red chillies
10g dried chillies, soaked in hot water until soft
70g red onions
5g turmeric root or powder
7g lemongrass (white part only)
200g coconut cream
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons sugar
400g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
250g kang kong, cut into lengths (you can also use sweet potato leaves for this dish to make it Huan Chu Heok Masak Lemak)
10 prawns, deveined
2 tablespoons seedless assam pulp (tamarind pulp)
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil and fry prawn shells and heads.
- Add 500g water and bring to a boil. Simmer 30 minutes before draining.
- Meanwhile, drain the dried shrimp (reserve the liquid). Blend into a coarse floss and set aside.
- Blend the rempah into a smooth paste.
- Heat 4 tablespoons oil and fry the rempah.
- Add the shrimp floss and fry until aromatic.
- Add the prawn broth, reserved soaking liquid from the dried shrimp, and coconut cream.
- Bring to a boil before seasoning with salt and sugar.
- Add the sweet potatoes and simmer until soft, about 15-20 minutes.
- Add kang kong and prawns. Cook until leaves wilt and prawns turn pink.
- Add assam and taste the gravy – it should have a good balance of salty and sweet, with a slight tang. I recommend overseasoning the gravy or the kang kong would taste a little bland.