The huge bundle of water spinach or Filipino “kangkong” (say ‘kang-kong’) was washed, trimmed and plunked right into the pan ready for the Dinengdeng. The sour vinegar simmered with the black fish sauce or ” bagoong balayan” and already the aroma of sweet tartness with a salty zest was a promise of a good midweek dinner. And right next to it, was a big brown bowl of bagoong rice.
It was the middle of the week, somewhere between hump day and Friday, when a quick meal was the order of the day. And like a godsend message, I was re-reading the blogpost of foodie friend, Malou Nievera and her terrific recipes for the Kulinarya Cooking Club last May. Her easy, quick and irresistable Filipino dishes have always attracted my attention and I’ve made a couple of them. The Dinengdeng ( say “di-neng- deng” ) she recently featured was no exception. I liked it immediately. It was easy, quick to do, and I had all the ingredients – spinach, onions, vinegar, and the black fish sauce.
Coincidentally, I had just bought from the nearby Asian grocery a bunch of water spinach, also known as “kangkong”. The water spinach has longer stems and thinner, lankier leaves compared to the regular spinach I get from major supermarkets here in America. In the Philippines, it is commonly grown all over the country. Filipinos have used it for a variety of dishes like – sinigang, tinola and even a kangkong-tomato-salty egg salad. Back here in my American kitchen, I had a huge amount of “kangkong” and I was craving Dinengdeng, so you’re seeing my version of Malou’s vegetable dish.
In a separate medium sized skillet, sizzled some cloves of garlic and shrimp paste. The Asian aromas of salty shrimp and fried garlic were wildly flying around the kitchen. I had leftover rice so I quickly cooked garlic fried rice with “bagoong alamang”, the Filipino shrimp paste. The tasty, salty and garlicky aromas warmly welcomed anyone who walked into the house that moment.
So here’s my interpretation of Dinengdeng via SkiptoMalou.net and a huge serving of bagoong garlic fried rice. This was the ultimate comfort meal – simple, salty, crunchy, tangy, zesty with unique Filipino scrumptious flavors all over.
Dinengdeng-Spinach Stir Fry and Bagoong Rice - Fried Rice with Shrimp Paste
- 3 cups Kangkong (water spinach) from Asian markets (or use baby spinach)
- 2 Tablespoons Black fish sauce or Bagooong Balayan from Asian markets
- 2 Tablespoons white vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 whole onion, chopped
- 3 cups cooked white rice, at least a day old, refrigerated
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 Tablespoons Filipino shrimp paste or Bagoong Alamang from Asian markets
To make the Dinengdeng :
- Put the water, vinegar and fish sauce altogether in a pan. Allow a few minutes to simmer. Add the onions and the leafy vegetables. As soon as you dropped the veggies, switch off the stove. Allow a few minutes for the veggies to cook but remove it at once. Malou advised : " You don't want to overcook your veggies. "
To make the Bagoong Rice :
- In a medium skillet, over medium high heat, add the vegetable oil. Then add the garlic and shrimp paste. Add the cooked day-old rice. Mix well so that the shrimp paste is spread all around. Serve hot with any meal or the water spinach dish “Dinengdeng”.
If you’re wondering what the difference is between the 2 types used, Bagoong Alamang (which I used for the Bagoong Rice) and Bagoong Balayan (for the Dinengdeng), here’s a definition:
- "The bagoong balayan is made from fish", I was told by Glenda Rosales Barretto, grand dame of Philippine cuisine, cookbook author and restaurant owner of Via Mare. In an interview with her when I was in Manila, she mentioned "Bagoong Balayan is used in the vinaigrette dressing we serve with our Pako Salad (Fiddlehead Ferns)". Ms. Barretto further defined Bagoong Balayan as fermented fish paste. "
- Ingredient Substitute: Use "patis" or fish sauce in place of 'bagoong balayan" if preferred. The results are just as amazing.
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