Belacan Yam Leaf (Sweet Potato Leaf) Recipe
I do eat vegetables and other foods. I really do. I just don’t post them that much on this blog (which I intend to change soon) because seafood dishes are a lot more photogenic than, say, tofu, beans, turnip, chicken with skin and bones. I am partial to seafood, but I also love my greens, poultry/pork, eggs, soy products, and other foodstuff. One vegetable dish that I simply can’t do without in my cooking repertoire is a signature Malaysian dish called kangkung belacan or stir-fried water spinach/morning glory with shrimp paste, even though it means that I have a stinky house! The key ingredient is none other than belacan, the Malaysian variety of shrimp paste. (Shrimp paste is an essential flavoring medium in Southeast Asian cooking.) Strong, pungent, yet aromatic at the same time, the pairing of belacan with vegetables is probably one of the most interesting stir-frying techniques for vegetables. The taste is bold, exquisite, and never boring…
For today’s creation, I used yam leaf/sweet potato leaf (蕃薯叶), which works as well as water spinach. While it might seem or look simple, perfect execution is not easy. Wok hei (the breath of the wok) and timing are exceedingly important; a little too much wok hei or a tad too long in the wok can render the dish a complete failure, for example: burned belacan that tastes bitter or overcooked vegetables that look purple-ish in color.
While I love this recipe, I must warn you that it’s an acquired taste, especially for an American palate. However, it’s well worth a try because you probably can’t find another vegetable dish as intriguing or delicious as this one! Other signature Malaysian recipes\ can be found here.
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