Thai morning glory stir-fried (Pak Boong Fai Dang) is a popular leafy greens simple side dish served all over Thailand. The Chinese water spinach is cooked at high heat in a hot wok with a good amount of garlic and umami stir-fry sauce to make it a delicious dish to have as a side dish.
Try my popular Thai basil chicken Pad Kra Pao for more tasty stir-fried recipes. Also, Easy Thai ginger chicken stir-fry with mushrooms, Spicy Thai black pepper, and garlic tofu, and Thai stir-fry cabbage. and easy red curry green beans with shrimp. These recipes are jammed-packed with bold flavors you'll love!
- What Is Thai morning glory stir-fried recipe?
- What is morning glory?
- Why This Recipe Works
- Key ingredients for making Thai morning glory stir-fried recipe
- How To Make Pad Pak Boon Fai Dang
- Tips for making Thai Morning Glory stir-fried recipe
- FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- More Thai Recipes You'll Love
- Thai Morning Glory Stir-Fried (Pak Boong Fai Dang)
What Is Thai morning glory stir-fried recipe?
This Thai morning glory stir-fried recipe is a tasty and simple Thai dish. The perfect texture of the hollow and tender shoots mixed with the long pieces of the leafy green vegetable makes this dish extra addicting!
In Thai, it is called Pad Pak Boong Fai Daeng (Stir-fried morning glory with red flames.) The red flames refer to the flashing fire that quickly charred the top of the stir fry at high heat while the morning glory gets tossed from the bottom of the wok into the air.
It’s quite a show-stopper for such a tasty side dish. This burst of red flame gives the dish its wok hei taste, making the stir-fry dish memorable. A wok hei refers to the distinctive taste of the seasoned wok cooking food at a very high temperature.
What is morning glory?
Morning Glory is a vibrant green leafy vegetable popular throughout South East Asia. They have long, hollow bright green stems with long green leafy parts. The actual vegetable can stretch from 1-2 feet long! This semi-aquatic plant is popular in Southeast Asia and has many different names. In Thai, it's called Pak boong or Phak bung (ผักบุ้ง).
This is where the recipe gets its name from. They are also known as water spinach, Chinese spinach, Kang Kong, Ong Choy, river spinach, river morning glory, water morning glory, swamp cabbage, and Chinese watercress.
Morning glory vegetable has many uses in Thai cuisine and other cuisines in Southeast Asia. It can be eaten raw, served on the side of a Thai papaya salad, or used in soups or salads.
Why This Recipe Works
- Pad boong Fai Dang requires a few ingredients and comes together in less than 15 minutes!
- It is a great side dish for a flavorful vegetable for Thai meals.
- You can adapt by adding protein to the recipe if you want a more meaty and complete meal. Bacon, ham bits, and pork belly are good options to add to the stir fry.
- This Thai stir-fry dish is a great vegan option. Omit the oyster sauce and add a little extra soybean paste and light soy sauce; you are ready!
- Pak Boong Fai Daeng is a great dish for those new to Thai food who want to learn more about Thai cooking using green vegetables. It's very simple and comes together fast.
Key ingredients for making Thai morning glory stir-fried recipe
- Morning Glory or water spinach. These can be found at Asian supermarkets. Check your local farmers' market, too. I've had some luck there too.
- Oyster sauce. The oyster sauce adds an umami, velvety taste to the dish. Don’t skip this ingredient.
- Soybean paste. Soybean paste, yellow bean sauce, is fermented soybeans popular in Asian stir-fries. Also, a sauce that gives the recipe its unique flavor. Look for the sauce with whole beans rather than the fine paste. Store-bought pastes tend to be salty, depending on what brand you find. Use it sparingly. A little bit goes a long way. I've seen shrimp paste used for this recipe. Don't do it. It's not the same thing and will change your flavor entirely.
- Soy sauce. You can substitute soy sauce for fish, coco amino, or plain salt. Use a smaller amount and adjust at the end for more salty flavors.
- Sugar. I used white, but you can use brown, coconut, monk fruit or honey, agave, or syrup.
- Garlic. This stir-fry morning glory recipe uses a very generous amount of garlic. Don't be shy to use extra large garlic cloves if you love garlic in your food. Chop the garlic in larger slices, too, for extra garlicky bites.
- Thai red chilies. Use as needed! You can use jalapeños, serrano, or dried red chiles too. Remove the seeds for less heat.
- Oil. Use vegetable, coconut, avocado, or grapeseed oil. This recipe does not recommend Olive and sesame oil, as Thai food does not use olive oil.
- Water. Use stock for added flavors. Make sure it’s unsalted stock water, or omit the soy sauce if the stock.
How To Make Pad Pak Boon Fai Dang
Step 1. In a large bowl, soak, wash, rinse the morning glory in cold water, and cut the morning glory into small pieces. See kitchen notes for the best tips for cutting.
Step 2. Mix the sauce and use only two tablespoons of water. Save the other two tablespoons of water for later use in the wok.
Step 3. Heat a large wok or skillet on high heat, and add oil. Once hot, add the garlic and chilis and cook until lightly brown. 15-30 seconds.
Add the water spinach, and use a spatula to flip the vegetable around with the chilis and garlic for 2 minutes until the morning glory starts to wilt.
Step 4. You’ll have to work fast and stay close to the pan here. Add water, hear the pan sizzle, and quickly stir everything together.
Step 5. Add the sauce, stir in well, and often. Cook for one more minute, turn the heat off, and let residual heat continues to cook the vegetable for a few more seconds. That's it! Done.Place on a serving plate and serve hot with steamed rice. Sticky rice is a fun rice entree for this dish, as you can roll up the sticky rice with your fingers into rice balls and dip the rice into the umami sauce!
Tips for making Thai Morning Glory stir-fried recipe
- This dish cooks fast and on high heat. Use caution when adding the spinach to the hot pan. You’ll want to stay close and stir the vegetables often.
- Cutting the water spinach. Cut the morning glory stems into about 2-3 inch pieces. This is where you'll have the crunchy stems cut at about 2-3 inches long, while the softer stems and leafy parts are only cut into 4-6 inches pieces.
- The amount of water spinach used will seem large and overfill your pan. Don’t panic. The vegetable will wilt fast and A lot in the pan's heat. Once done, you’ll end up with 2 cups of cooked water spinach. (:
- When adding water to the wok in step 2, the water added to high heat will help wilt the leaves quickly. In Thailand, this is where you’ll see red flames of fire charring the water spinach in the wok. Thus, the dish's actual name in Thai is “Pak Boong Fai Dang.” (ผัดผักบุ้งไฟแดง).
Any hearty vegetable with vibrant green leaves and tender stems will be a great alternative. Look for leafy, vibrant Asian vegetables at your local grocery stores and see what you can find.
I've seen baby spinach and regular spinach used for this recipe. I don't recommend it as the leaves get too soft and soggy when cooked at high heat.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Morning Glory is hard to find a substitute for. But if you can’t find this amazing leafy green vegetable but still want the Thai flavors from the sauces used in the stir fry, a good alternative to morning glory is kale, bok choy, Chinese broccoli, and even broccoli florets.
Morning glory can be found at local Asian markets. They have long hollow stems and thin and long bright green leaves. They are about 1-2 feet long and usually sold in large bunches.
Thai morning glory is mostly a healthy dish. The traditional recipe requires quite a bit of oil for stir-frying, but you can easily cut down on the oil. You can also substitute white sugar for monk fruit sugar or other sweeteners.
Morning Glory stir-fried is umami and salty with a subtle sweet taste of sugar. The bean paste has a silky and salty flavor that adds to the sauce's umami taste mixed with oyster and soy sauce. The garlic and chilis add the most aromatic fragrance cooked on high heat in a wok.
Morning glory takes little cooking time, especially when cooked on high heat in a carbon steel wok. Depending on your stovetop temperature, cooking takes 3-5 minutes until the water spinach reaches its tender-crisp stage. Once the vegetable starts to wilt, you are done and ready to serve.
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