On November 21, 2009, I went on a "foodie" field trip with Ron Salazar, a dear friend who works at the Mayor of Chicago's Office of Special Events. He wanted me to sample some of the best "foodie" haunts in Uptown Chicago, at the famous Argyle Street, or simply known as "Argyle." Although this strip has many Vietnamese owned-and-managed restaurants, groceries, and produce stores, I quickly became a fan when Ron took me to a bakery, La Patisserie, which featured some of the best Filipino baked products I've ever tasted, such as pan de sal, pan de coco, and hopia. Oh me, oh my, I was in "foodie" heaven!
One of my great "buys" that Saturday was kangkong, aka Chinese water spinach or swamp cabbage. I refrigerated a hefty bunch of kangkong --- and I plotted and schemed on what I would serve that Friday for our Thanksgiving dinner: "Adobong Kangkong for my brother, David, and his wife Janet, when they visit us on Black Friday all the way from Missouri!"
Cooking Adobong Kangkong was SO easy. Washing the vegetables was another matter. For those who know me well, any vegetable dish takes a lot of cleaning time for me. I was SO busy cleaning the kangkong that when the dish was cooked, I forgot to take a photo of the finished product.
Here is my recipe.
- 1 huge bowl of kangkong (swamp cabbage) about 4 to 6 cups, stalks and leaves trimmed and placed in separate containers, washed and drained
- 1 lb. of pork, washed, drained, then sliced into 1/2-inch pieces, then marinated in about 2 tbsps. soy sauce, just enough to coat meat (low sodium preferred; this can be prepared at least a day in advance, then stored in a ziploc bag)
- 1/4 cup of Datu Puti white vinegar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce (low sodium preferred)
- 1 heaping tbsp. of prepared minced garlic from the bottle
- 1 white onion, diced
- 1 bouquet gaarni of Lorna's aromatics (see Lorna's Humba recipe or see below)
1. Prepare a saucepan (stainless steel, teflon, or other non-acid reactive pan) by heating it with about 2 tbsps. of olive oil.
2. Saute garlic until light yellow, then add onions. Stir-fry in medium heat until the onions turn translucent. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the pork slices and brown for a few minutes. The resulting broth will flavor the Adobong Kangkong.
3. Add the bouquet gaarni and perch the muslin bag onto the side of the saucepan. Make sure that the bouquet gaarni touches the broth in the sauce pan.
4. Add soy sauce and vinegar. Bring to a boil.
5. Add the kangkong stalks. Allow to cook and soften, maybe about 5-10 minutes.
6. Add the kangkong leaves. Mix the pork and broth with the leaves. Cover the saucepan. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the kangkong is slightly wilted. Some cooks prefer a wilted Adobong Kangkong (like me!).
7. Serve with steamed rice.
Note: You can use other vegetables, such as Bok Choy, snap peas, spinach, string beans, cabbage, or whatever you have in your refrigerator for a nice Adobong Vegetable dish.
The Bouquet Gaarni
A bundle of spices and herbs, the aromatics, are placed in a square of muslin cloth and tied together with butcher twine ("lambo"). I use a muslin bag sachet normally used for tea and I fill it up with my aromatics. If you don't have any of the above but you have a tea strainer, you can use this, too.
I prefer using a bouquet gaarni instead of mixing the aromatics with the meat or vegetable mixture because I don't like biting into peppercorns or cardamon seeds. The bouquet gaarni is braised with the rest of the ingredients and is removed before eating.
Ingredients for Bouquet Gaarni:
4 pieces of Star Anise dried flowers
2 whole cinnamon sticks, split in half (the original length is 3-inch sticks)
6 small bay leaves (or laurel leaves)
1 to 2 tbsps. whole black peppercorns
16 cardamon seeds (whole, unpeeled)