A little over a month ago, we attended a party for a christening and one of the foods served was crispy kangkong (water spinach) chips. It got my attention real fast. Please excuse my naïveté but I’ve never heard of this before. And true enough, it was very crispy indeed. The hubs also liked it and asked if I could make one, so I gave it my best try. In other words, I googled it and, apparently, crispy kangkong chips really is a thing. It’s pretty much like any vegetable tempura where it’s coated with a batter before frying.
The secret to making the leaves crispy long after it was fried is cold batter. I know how challenging it is to keep the batter cold in this weather and add the heat from the frying pan once you get to cooking. It’s a nightmare! To circumvent this problem, we need to cook fast. Use a large pan so you can fry a lot of the battered Kangkong leaves at once. This was my mistake the first time. I used a smaller pan so that I don’t have to use a lot of oil. What I didn’t realize was the leaves will stick together when you overcrowd them while frying. I was only able to cook one or two leaves at a time. I even had to put the batter back in the fridge to keep it cool. Needless to say, it took me a million years to finish.
Another challenge you might encounter is keeping the batter stick to the leaves once fried. The trick here is to drench the leaves in cornstarch before dipping it in the batter. I manually coated the leaves one-by-one which took a lot of time, but it was a great time to get the leaves to open up (not about their feelings!) If you know a faster way of doing this, please do let me know!
The leaves would look like this after coating them with cornstarch.
After frying, you can serve it how ever you want. It’s so versatile that you can partner it with practically any dip, like mayonnaise, vinegar, or soy sauce. You can also sprinkle it with some salt or flavored powder, like cheese, BBQ, or sour cream, on the fried leaves just like you would on french fries. But if you’re gonna do this, do it immediately after frying.
Just look how crispy that is. Yum!
So now this is our official snack whenever we have our movie marathon nights. Plus this is a much healthier alternative to store-bought potato chips. Yes, I do realize that it’s still fried but compare it with salty potato chips, it’s still the better choice. And besides, you can always use olive oil for frying.
By the way, don’t throw the stalks away when you remove them. Sayang! You can turn them into another yummy dish, like adobong kangkong.
Bunch of kangkong (water spinach) leaves
For the batter:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp cumin seed (optional)
1 tsp garlic powder (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup ice cold water
1. In a bowl, combine all the batter ingredients. Mix until well incorporated and pop it in the fridge while you work on the leaves.
2. Separate the leaves from the stalk.
3. Wash, dry, and coat the leaves with cornstarch.
4. Heat a frying pan with vegetable oil over low to medium heat.
5. Retrieve the batter from the fridge. Dip the leaves and gently place one by one on the oil.
6. Fry the leaves until golden brown. Don't overcrowd the leaves while frying.
6. Place on a plate lined with paper towel.
7. Serve with a dip like mayo or soy sauce. Or sprinkle with salt or powdered flavorings, such as sour cream, cheese, or BBQ powder.