Kangkung Belacan

Kangkung Belacan is a Malaysian vegetable side dish prepared with water spinach called Kangkung stir fried with spices, aromatics and a shrimp paste called belacan.

In Malaysia this dish was quite common, I saw this vegetable dish almost everywhere I dined in. A dish closely similar to the Filipino dish where it uses bagoong but instead of that a more potent form of shrimp paste is used called belacan. Asians love this dish, its simplistic, its easy preparation and its versatility as a side dish plus it’s also very affordable which I guess contributed to its popularity specially in countries where budget is a constraint.

On its own it might be strong specially for beginners so don’t try it that way, where this shine is when it is paired with steamed rice and any other grilled dishes specially seafood. Its pungent, it may not look pretty but it’s a dish that is full of umami and textures.

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Kangkung Belacan

  • Author: Raymund
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 8 mins
  • Total Time: 18 mins
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Cuisine: Malaysian


Kangkung Belacan is a Malaysian vegetable side dish prepared with water spinach called Kangkung stir fried with spices, aromatics and a shrimp paste called belacan.


Units Scale
  • 500 g water spinach / kangkung, rinsed well and chopped
  • 2 pcs red chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp dried shrimp
  • 3/4 inch cube belacan
  • vegetable oil
  • 8 pcs small shallots, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • fish sauce, to taste


  1. In a large wok heat oil then cook the dried shrimps until pungent and crispy, remove from wok then set it aside.
  2. In the same wok sauté garlic and shallots in medium-low heat. Cook shallots until soft.
  3. Add the belacan, mash and stir fry with the cooked shallots for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the water spinach, put on very high heat then continuously stir fry for 3 minutes or until vegetables are wilted.
  5. Season with fish sauce, add the crispy dried shrimps, give it a good mix, turn off heat then serve.


8 Responses

  1. It’s my favourite summer dish. My mom makes kangkung or water spinach stirfries with dried shrimps or preserved tofu..very appetizing when the weather is hot and humid.

  2. suituapui says:

    I love this but where are the leaves? We may get rid of some of the stalks – we usually keep only the thinner ones.

  3. Very interesting! I don’t own any belacan… would botarga work?

    • Raymund says:

      From the looks of it, that may be possible. I havent tried them though so I dont know how strong the taste of this would be. Belachan has a strong fishy taste and pungent aroma which can be achieved I guess with a salted fish roe

  4. Another delicious recipe with a complicated name to pronounced haha but I don’t care for the name as look as it’s delicious. And oh man this looks splendid!

  5. Hannah says:

    So simple but so flavorful! What a winning combination.

  6. I had to look up kangkung and they said too substitute spinach. But our spinach wouldn’t keep any shape. So I guess you are lucky to be able to get this!

  7. I wonder if it is close to what we call New Zealand spinach? I will need to look. It sounds really wonderful.

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