We have a lovely vegetable known as Kang Kong, or Woon Chai in Foochow, or Kung Sing Chai in Mandarin.
It is water spinach in English.
For as long as I know, my family started having this vegetable on the table from our days in Pulau Kerto, where we lived by the edge of the river. Mum grew the kangkong on the mud plots, while some of the spinach could be gathered wild from the creek too. Both were such edible vegetables. We could have it as soup, stir fried and in our noodles. Mum's cooking was plain and healthy.
In those long ago days, we children could forage for this wild organic kangkong in the creeks and we would just be so happy to go home with a huge bundle under our arms,both in Pulau Kerto and in Sibu.
For several years we also reared rabbits in our Brooke Drive home and we shared our foraged vegetables with them.
Aother good memory of kangkong was how cheap it was to buy them in the Sibu wet market from our friendly vegetable sellers, especially our Mr.Sia who was nicknamed Lakiang (he gladly answered the name too). He and his mother sold vegetables for decades and were friends with my mum. Each time we bought vegetables from them, we would always get a few stalks free after the weighing.
Can you imagine buying 20 cents worth of kangkong per kati and then get about four or five stalks more? It was buying one kati and get 1/4 free....such was the good Foochow neigbhourliness of those days.
We often had kangkong soup for lunch and for dinner. It was a cheap and healthy dish for all of us.And we never got tired of the vegetables. Later I learned from my food expert friend, that a green vegetable dish served after a big banquet is a must in Fujian, to act as a detox or "ching" dish. Kang kong is full of fibre and is really good for us.
Even though many people also said that eating too much kangkong would cause weakening of legs and bones, none of us so far have orthopedic problems. Mum is still strong in her legs and still has an excellent mind. Praise God.
Today this vegetable is a restuarant dish, known as Malay Splendour orSambal kangkong (马来风光). It is almost our national dish!! And my paternal grandfather, if he were alive today, would really have a chuckle!!