Have you ever wondered what the most popular vegetable dish of Vietnamese food is? The answer is stir-fried morning glory. This is a must-try dish in your Vietnam travel, as it is associated with many generations of Vietnamese people. Known for its rusticity, morning glory can be said to represent the national cuisine.
1. What is morning glory? Is it good for your health?
Morning glory is a very typical Vietnamese vegetable. It is also known as swamp morning glory, water spinach, swamp spinach, or “rau muống” in Vietnamese. It is a leafy green vegetable with long slender stems and tiny white flowers. Morning glory has a slightly bitter taste and is often compared to spinach or watercress in terms of texture and flavor.
Aside from its delicious taste and versatile use in various dishes, morning glory has numerous health benefits. It is low in calories (stir-fried morning glory calories are only about 45 per cup) but high in essential vitamins and minerals such as A, C, E, K, B6, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. These nutrients help boost the immune system and promote healthy bones and muscles.
However, it’s worth noting that morning glory should be consumed in moderation, especially for those with certain health conditions. According to research, morning glory contains a substance called oxalic acid, which can interfere with the absorption of nutrients and may cause kidney stones when consumed excessively. Therefore, it is advised to limit the consumption of morning glory for individuals with kidney problems or frequent urinary tract infections.
Moreover, there are also certain precautions to take when preparing and cooking morning glory. To remove dirt or bacteria, this vegetable should be thoroughly washed and cooked before consumption. Also, it is recommended to stir-fry morning glory at high heat for a short time to retain its nutrients and prevent it from becoming too soggy.
2. Why is stir-fried morning glory a must-try on the culinary map of Vietnam?
Boiled morning glory and stir-fried morning glory with garlic are among the most beloved dishes made from this leafy green vegetable. Notably, stir-fried morning glory with garlic has been recognized as one of the top 29 must-try dishes in Vietnam by Vogue, one of the top 10 vegetarian dishes to savor in Hanoi according to Condé Nast Traveller India, and one of the top 9 most popular dishes in Vietnam as per Taste Atlas.
This dish is a simple yet fantastic combination of fresh morning glory, garlic, and an array of aromatic spices sizzling in a hot pan. As the garlic reaches perfection, it releases a captivating aroma that delights the senses. This delightful dish is often served alongside a main course, complemented perfectly by fragrant white rice. It is a staple in the Vietnam food list, gracing the tables of many meals.
3. How to make the classic Vietnamese stir-fried morning glory?
- 1 bunch of fresh morning glory
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
- Fish sauce
- Sugar (optional)
- Crushed red pepper or sliced bird’s eye chili (optional)
- Salt and pepper
Step 1: Prepare the ingredients
- Begin by thoroughly washing the morning glory under running water to remove dirt. Depending on your preference, you can remove the leaves from the stems or keep them together.
- Drain and pat dry the morning glory using a clean kitchen towel.
- Trim off any tough ends from the stems, then cut the morning glory into bite-sized pieces.
Step 2: Blanch the morning glory
- Boil the water and blanch the morning glory for about 15 seconds.
- Drain and transfer to a bowl of cold water to keep the leaves crispy.
Step 3: Stir-fry over high heat
- Heat a pan over high heat and add cooking oil.
- Once the oil is hot, add minced garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute.
- Add the morning glory to the pan and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes or until slightly wilted.
- Season with fish sauce, sugar, salt, oyster sauce, and pepper to taste.
- Add crushed red pepper or sliced bird’s eye chili for a bit of heat.
- Continue stir-frying for 1-2 minutes until the morning glory is cooked but retains its vibrant green color.
- Transfer the stir-fried morning glory to a serving dish and enjoy.
For the best results, you can note these tips while making this dish:
- Use a wok or a pan with high sides for stir-frying.
- Stir-fry the garlic until just fragrant, as overcooking can cause it to become bitter.
- If you use sugar, add it at the end of your cooking to prevent burning.
- Adjust the seasoning to your preference.
- Stir-fry quickly over high heat to retain the crunchiness of the morning glory.
- Overcooked morning glory can become mushy and lose nutrients, so cook it only for a short time.
- Blanching the morning glory in hot water for a few seconds before stir-frying can help retain its vibrant color. Also, add salt to the pot of blanching water to enhance the taste.
- Don’t cover the pan while stir-frying, as it can cause the morning glory to become too soft and lose its texture.
- Rinse the morning glory with cold water after blanching to prevent overcooking.
By following these simple steps and tips, you can easily recreate this beloved Vietnamese dish in the comfort of your own home. Besides stir-frying, there are many other delicious ways to cook this versatile vegetable, such as boiled morning glory, morning glory soup, morning glory salad, and more. Whichever way you choose to enjoy this vegetable, one thing is sure – it will always be a flavorful and nutritious addition to your meal.
4. Difference between Vietnamese & Thai stir-fried morning glory
While Vietnamese stir-fried morning glory has been gaining recognition worldwide, its Thai counterpart is equally beloved for its unique flavors. The Thai recipe calls for more ingredients than the Vietnamese version, such as oyster sauce, palm sugar, soy sauce, soybean paste, and Thai red chili.
Here’s how you can make Thai stir-fried morning glory at home:
- Step 1: Begin by washing and cutting the morning glory into bite-sized pieces, similar to the Vietnamese version.
- Step 2: Make the Thai stir-fried morning glory sauce by mixing oyster sauce, sugar, soy sauce, soybean paste, and water in a small bowl.
- Step 3: Heat a skillet or wok over high heat and add cooking oil.
- Step 4: Once the oil is hot, add minced garlic and Thai red chili. Stir-fry until fragrant.
- Step 5: Add the prepared morning glory and stir-fry for a minute.
- Step 6: Pour in the prepared sauce and stir-fry until the morning glory is wilted yet still retains its crunchiness.
- Step 7: Add some water and stir-fry for an additional minute.
- Step 8: Serve immediately and enjoy with rice and the main course.
The main difference between Vietnamese and Thai stir-fried morning glory lies in the sauce used. While the Vietnamese version is more savory with a hint of sweetness, the Thai version tends to be spicier due to the addition of red chili and soybean paste.
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Stir-fried morning glory is one of the quintessential dishes that exemplifies the artistry of Vietnamese cuisine. With this guide, you can handcraft this Vietnamese culinary delight right in your own kitchen. Share this delicious journey with your friends and family and create unforgettable memories around the dinner table!