Water Spinach with Sesame (芝麻空心菜)

Water spinach was on sale last week, a whole bunch for less than $2!

Water spinach is a popular vegetable in Asia. According to Wikipedia, it is known by many different names, including phak bung, ong choy, rau muống, kangkong, trokuon, kolmou xak, kalmi shak, kangkung, and hayoyo. The name for water spinach I am most familiar with is in Mandarin: 空心菜 (pinyin: kōngxīncài), which literally translates into “empty-hearted vegetable”, a reference to its hollow stem.
Water spinach with tahini and sesame seeds

I used a traditional Asian technique to stir-fry water spinach, although with some non-traditional ingredients. I like experimenting, and this one was tasty!

Being a mild tasting vegetable, I imagine it would go well with a variety of seasonings, including ginger, chilies, hoisin sauce, or oyster sauce. As with most dark green vegetables, it contains vitamin A (for night vision, among other things) and folate (for making blood cells, among other things).

Water spinach with tahini

Water Spinach with Tahini and Sesame Seeds  (芝麻空心菜)

Serves: 2-4 as a side dish


  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 large bunch of water spinach, leaves and stems separated, washed and cut into ~ 1 inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp sesame paste (tahini)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp white sesame seeds, toasted


  1. Add oil in large pan (wok) over high heat. When oil is hot, add garlic and cook until fragrant.
  2. Add water spinach stems, stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the leaves and cook until wilted.
  3. Add sesame paste and salt to taste. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

4 thoughts on “Water Spinach with Sesame (芝麻空心菜)

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