Kang Kong Masak Lemak, A Delicious Vegetable-Focused Dish

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

Serves 3-4

For the prawn stock:

2 tablespoons oil

Shells from 10 prawns

30g haebee (dried shrimp), soaked until soft (about 10 minutes)

Rempah:

40g red chillies

10g dried chillies, soaked in hot water until soft

70g red onions

10g garlic

5g turmeric root or powder

10g galangal

5g ginger

7g lemongrass (white part only)

7g candlenuts

7g belacan

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)

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil and fry prawn shells and heads.
  2. Add 500g water and bring to a boil. Simmer 30 minutes before draining.
  3. Meanwhile, drain the dried shrimp (reserve the liquid). Blend into a coarse floss and set aside.
  4. Blend the rempah into a smooth paste.
  5. Heat 4 tablespoons oil and fry the rempah.
  6. Add the shrimp floss and fry until aromatic.
  7. Add the prawn broth, reserved soaking liquid from the dried shrimp, and coconut cream.
  8. Bring to a boil before seasoning with salt and sugar.
  9. Add the sweet potatoes and simmer until soft, about 15-20 minutes.
  10. Add kang kong and prawns. Cook until leaves wilt and prawns turn pink.
  11. 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.
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Author:

Pamelia Chia is a Singaporean chef and the author of the bestselling cookbook ‘Wet Market to Table’. After graduating with an Honor’s degree in Food Science and Technology from the National University of Singapore in 2014, she decided to trade a food scientist’s lab coat in for chef whites. She has since been working in restaurants in Singapore and Melbourne, including Candlenut and Carlton Wine Room. Her deepest interest being the preservation and celebration of Singaporean food heritage and culture, she started Singapore Noodles in 2020 as a platform to share about Singaporean food to a global audience. Find her on Instagram @pameliachia.

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