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Adobong Kangkong and Talong : Spinach-Eggplant Vinegar Saute

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The minute I sensed dinner was not ready, I knew I needed to cook a quick dish like Adobong Kangkong with Talong. I could not smell the usual familiar aroma of tangy adobo simmering in the slow cooker. In the kitchen, I lifted the glass lid to check on dinner. The lid felt stone cold. The meat pieces looked raw and uncooked. The dinner dish had stopped cooking after I left the house. My Calphalon slow cooker had just died.

It was too late to start a new dish, I thought. And I dreaded the idea of ordering take out. My refrigerator was fully stocked anyway, plus there was still less than an hour left before dinner. I had time to cook supper.  I knew just what to cook. I had a large batch of Asian eggplants and  fresh spinach. I was craving a dish with lots of garlic and a tangy sauce. I wanted lots of sauce to pour on a bed of hot, steaming jasmine rice. Before I knew it I was done cooking the classic Filipino vegetable dish Adobong Kangkong with Talong (a sautéed dish of spinach and eggplants in garlic-vinegar sauce).

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To those unfamiliar, kangkong (say ‘kanhn-khong’) is known as water spinach. This is a very common Filipino and Asian vegetable that grows in abundance back in the Philippines. Its stems are slightly longer  with a purplish hue at the end of the stalk. The leaves are longer and less plump, in comparison to the fresh American spinach. In some cookbooks, ‘kangkong’ is referred to as ‘swamp cabbage’. Eggplants in the Philippines are called talong (say ‘tah-long’) and more common are the Asian variety, which are long and slim. These have the same outer color and skin as the large aubergines. But within, one finds a thinner, slightly sweeter texture.

“Why are there no Filipino vegetarian dishes? “ I have often been asked by fellow food bloggers and cookbook authors whom I meet at conferences.   True, I admit a lot of the Filipino dishes featured on this site are pork-inspired. But yes, we have vegetable dishes, too. Many Filipino dishes are vegetable-based. Philippine cuisine thrives on food prepared from the backyard produce, the season’s local harvest or food abundant in one’s environment.

So, the next time you walk into your house with absolutely no dinner ready, no need to panic. These two vegetables can come together in a dish in the most divine way. Slice the eggplants while your adobo saute is simmering in the skillet. When the tangy vinegar-soy sauce blend slathered with a lot of garlic is ready in a few minutes, toss in the eggplant slices and watch them cook in less quickly. Finish it off at the end with the fresh spinach. While you mix and blend it all, the leafy spinach turns a dark green hue and then softens up. The irresistible adobo aroma of a garlic stew will invite everyone to the table immediately.

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Adobong Kangkong with Talong

Adobong Kangkong with Talong is a familiar dish to many Filipinos. The word ‘adobo’ evokes the combination of a vinegar, soy sauce stew lavished with a lot of garlic and black pepper. This dish is an adobo-inspired vegetarian version. The main ingredients were long, shiny Asian eggplants and a lot of fresh spinach. A quick saute was all that was needed to make this adobo-like veggie dish. This is an Asian in America recipe by Elizabeth Ann Quirino.
Cook Time6 mins
Total Time6 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Asian, Filipino
Keyword: Adobong Kangkong with Talong
Servings: 2 people
Author: Asian in America - Elizabeth Ann Quirino

Equipment

  • large skillet or wok

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 whole medium-sized onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Heinz cider vinegar, or use white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth, or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 piece bay leaf
  • 2 to 3 whole Asian eggplants sliced, about 2 cups (from Asian markets, or use aubergines)
  • 3 cups kangkong (water spinach), sliced in 2-inch length, washed, stems trimmed (from Asian markets or use regular fresh baby spinach)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper powder
  • for serving : steamed white jasmine rice

Instructions

  • In a large skillet, over medium high heat, add the cooking oil. Saute the garlic and onions for 1 minute till softened.
  • In a separate small bowl, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, broth, bay leaf, black peppercorns. Blend well and add into the skillet with the sautéed garlic and onions. Let the adobo liquid simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes .
  • Add the sliced eggplants to the adobo saute. Continue cooking eggplants till they are cooked for about 8 minutes. Add the spinach and stir into the rest of the ingredients. When the spinach cooks in 1 minute and the leaves start to look wilted, turn off the heat. Season with black pepper powder and a pinch of salt. Serve warm with steamed jasmine white rice.
  • Hello, Friends! All the images and content on this blog are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED and owned by my media company Besa-Quirino LLC. This means BY LAW y
    ou are NOT allowed to copy, scrape, lift, frame, plagiarize or use my photos and  recipe content I wrote, on your website,books, films, television shows or videos  without my permission. If you want to republish this recipe or content on another website, video, news article,or media outlets mentioned above please ASK my permission, re-write it in your own words and simply link back to this blog to give proper attribution. It’s the legal thing to do. Thank you. Email me at [email protected]

Hello, Friends! All the images and content on this blog are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED and owned by my media company Besa-Quirino LLC. This means BY LAW you are NOT allowed to copy, scrape, lift, frame, plagiarize or use my photos and  recipe content I wrote, on your website,books, films, television shows or videos  without my permission. If you want to republish this recipe or content on another website, video, news article,or media outlets mentioned above please ASK my permission, re-write it in your own words and simply link back to this blog to give proper attribution. It’s the legal thing to do. Thank you. Email me at [email protected]

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11 Comments

  1. Kumusta! Just dropping in as I saw you re-posted this on FB. Glad you pointed out the question you always hear – “why are there no Filipino vegetarian dishes” – far from the truth! I often hear that question too, and I think it means something when folks like us who eat meat still include and lift up yummy vegetable traditions, too. I’ll soon be missing the veggies of the hotter months, like talong, but excited to dive into winter squashes and root veggies.

    1. Thanks, Aileen. What an insightful comment about Filipino vegetable dishes. Asian eggplants are my fave and no matter how pricey when off-season, I still buy them at the Asian market. I love kabocha and the winter squashes,too. 🙂

  2. 9/18/21

    Asked Google f a Filipino receipe for eggplant & spinach. Look so easy will be trying it soon when I can get fresh garlic cloves. Here where I live don’t have the right talent. Be using the oblong eggplant. How would I cut it? Hope to hear you soon.

    1. Thanks, Stephanie. How kind of you. If you’re using the large aubergine eggplant, you can slice them into half-inch sized cubes, or 1-inch strips, bite-sized pieces. Hope that helps.

  3. Making this for the second time tonight. Last time I didn’t have enough kangkong but now I have plenty so am looking forward to it. Still haven’t managed to buy the right eggplant though. I love the vinegary taste of this dish.

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