Water spinach has leaves with thin, hollow stems with long and flat shape. Leaves are one to six inches in length and up to three inches in diameter. Water spinach has a same flavor like common spinach, with mild, nutty undertones.
Water spinach is available throughout the year.
(summer and early fall in New England)
Water spinach, is scientifically known as Ipomoea aquatica, is a semi-aquatic vine harvested for its leaves, which are harvested both young and mature. It has many other common names including: swamp cabbage, Chinese spinach, asagaona, ong choy, phak bung and ensai. The most famous name used is kangkong. Water spinach belongs to morning glory family and shares the same genus as the sweet potato.
In Asia, water spinach is considered to be a medicine as it contains many vitamins, including A, B, C, E, and “U” (S-methyl-methionine). It is used for stomach and intestinal disorders.
Water spinach is used in many Asian cooking methods, stir fry with garlic and chilies. The hollow stems can be cooked as a crunchy side dish. Store refrigerated in a plastic bag, and use within 2-3 days of buy.
The plant is found in India and Southeast Asia, where it is a common vegetable in food cultures throughout the region. Water spinach has been introduced as a non-native vegetable to the United States in 1973. It has grown so prolifically in waterway regions of Florida that it is listed locally and federally as a prohibited plant and "noxious weed".