Kangkong – Un choi, Watercress, swamp spinach, water spinach
They call this leafy vegetable swamp spinach because it virtually grows in swampy areas and waterways or streams. They like water just like the common watercress. The leaves are shaped like arrows and the stems are rounded and hollow inside. Kangkong or water spinach is in the same family of sweet potato and morning glory and so their flowers look similar except kangkong will bear only white flowers that eventually will form into seeds. You can either plant them from seeds or from the cuttings that you get from the bunch in the market. It is relatively easy to grow. Just keep them well-watered all the time. I put the cutting in a vase with clean water and wait till it forms root before I plant them in the garden. It will bounce back as a transplant easily.
There is no known medicinal value for this plant but the nutritional value is extra -ordinary. It has antioxidants and the best part is the fiber.
I always incorporate this vegetable in cooking especially sinigang (the sour soup) or you can make it into a salad by cooking it in boiling water and submerging them in iced water to stop the cooking process and to maintain the bright green color and then just add the dressing that you like. I prefer using seasoned vinegar and sliced onion or sibuyas Tagalog/Iloko, our native shallots. Traditionally, we used leafy vegetables like kangkong and sweet potato tops for cold salads, because we do not have the lettuce that cold climate countries have, although in the Mountain Province mainly in the Trinidad Valley, they were able to cultivate them including all cold-season vegetables like snow peas, bell peppers, cucumbers, celery ,even strawberries are grown in abundance there. To escape from summer heat go to Bagiuo City in the Mountain Province and take the opportunity to see the local market full of fresh vegetables and fruits we only see in America.
Incidentally, Indonesian calls it kangkung, so we must have gotten that name from them, being our Malayan ancestors.