What is Pad Pak Boong?
Pak Boong is the Thai name for water spinach, although the Thai prefer calling this green leafy vegetable morning glory. Maybe because the vegetable has a reputation of being very beneficial to your health and eating it in the morning is considered a great way to kickstart your day.
Pad Pak Boong is the most common and traditional way to prepare water spinach. It means: Stir-Fried Morning Glory. Yes, it is that simple. Just add some simple seasoning and stir-fry to turn pak boong into a delicious serving of crunchy Pad Pak Boong a.k.a. Thai Stir-Fried Morning Glory.
How to serve Pad Pak Boong
In Thailand you can order Stir-Fried Morning Glory at basically every restaurant or food stall. It is usually served with some jasmine cooked rice. Although many Thai will order it with some sort of meat (the Thai love their pork and chicken) on the side as well.
Traditionally, Thai will most often use some oyster sauce or fish sauce to further season their Pad Pak Boong. But since Thai street food is all about fresh preparation, we never had any trouble explaining we prefer soy sauce – and the dish doesn’t taste any less delicious for it.
How does Pad Pak Boong taste
The base of the morning glory is crunchy, even after you stir-fry it. You can compare it a bit to the chewiness of spring onion. The leaves of the morning glory shrink when you stir-fry them, and are then very similar to normal spinach.
Morning glory is very low in calories, but very rich in vitamins and minerals. One of our first days in Thailand we ordered a big plate of stir-fried morning glory for breakfast, and the friendly food stall owner kept saying: “Very good for health! Very good to be strong and lean! Very good breakfast!” OK then, point taken.
So the Thai really believe in the healthiness of pak boong. We do too. But hey, we pretty much believe in the health benefits of any vegetable. Specifically for pak boong though, we believe it to be extremely tasteful.
Morning glory will complete a lot of vegetable Thai dishes perfectly well. But the most commonly made Thai dish that uses this water spinach, is Pad Pak Boong. And with reason. It is ridiculously easy to make and leaves both the crip and the flavor of the morning glory intact.
For 2 servings
- 500 grams of morning glory
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 6 red chillies (take less if you don’t like spicy)
- 1 tablespoon of fermented soybean paste
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
Note: If you can’t get your hands on fermented soybean paste, don’t worry. Just use some extra soy sauce.
- Mortar and pestle (or substitute with cutting board and firm knife or spoon)
How to make Pad Pak Boong
Prep: 10 min. | Cook: 5 min | Total: 15 min.
- Rinse the morning glory under running water to get rid of possible sand.
- Cut the morning glory into pieces of about 4 centimeters.
- Crush 4 cloves of garlic and 6 chilies to tiny bits in a mortar. Using a Thai style mortar and pestle will definitely bring out the taste best. But if you don’t have one, simply crush the garlic and the chilies on your cutting board, using a big knife or a spoon.
- Heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil in a wok on high heat.
- Put the garlic and the chilies in the wok and stir for about 10 seconds.
- Add the morning glory, the tablespoon of fermented soy paste and the tablespoon of soy sauce.
- Stir-fry for 2 minutes on high fire.
Serve immediately and eat with rice.
More traditional vegan Thai recipes? Take a look the ones we’ve collected so far.
Recipe: Pad Pak Boong (Thai Stir-Fried Morning Glory)
Prep time: 10 min.
Cook time: 5 min.
Total time: 15 min.
Ingredients: morning glory, red chillies, garlic, soy sauce, fermented soybean paste
Type of meal: lunch, dinner, side dish
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