Morning Glory from above with chilli scattered around

This is a staple side dish across many parts of south-east Asia. Simple, delicious and quick, it’s a perfect dish to eat alongside a Thai curry or stirfry. Or you can just eat a plate of it on its own – which I have to admit doing myself several times! You won’t believe how simple it is to make this Thai morning glory at home – and once you have I guarantee you’ll make it time and time again!

What is it?

Morning glory (also commonly called pak boong) is made from water spinach which is a type of plant that is native across parts of Asia. It is grown like a vegetable and eaten as such too. This is the most common recipe you will find it in. Other names for morning glory / water spinach include river spinach and kang kong.

Kang kong on a counter

This recipe stir fries water spinach with garlic, chilli and a few other ingredients to give a rich umami flavour which is very addictive!

Where does the name come from?

Water spinach’s flowers last for just one day. When they bloom they do so first thing in the morning, which gives this vegetable/dish its unusual name.

How long does it keep?

Thai Morning Glory on a platter

While not as satisfying as freshly made, you can keep this in the fridge for up to 3 days and reheat if you have leftovers (which you probably won’t!) It’s not suitable for freezing as the texture will suffer a lot.


You just need 7 ingredients for this recipe (plus salt and pepper):

Thai Morning Glory Ingredients
  • Water spinach (pak boong, kang kong) – buy it as fresh as you can as it doesn’t last too long. Try and get pieces which have leaves with no sign of wilting or browning
  • Vegetable/canola or rapeseed oil
  • Garlic – this recipe uses a lot of it! Finely chop them
  • Chillis – you can use hot chillis for this recipe, such as birds eye chillis, as you simply slash the skin and then fry them whole. Therefore it doesn’t get too spicy. If you do want extra spice then chop them up a little into large pieces.
  • Oyster sauce
  • Soybean paste – I use this brand
  • Light soy sauce


If you are struggling to find soybean paste then you can use fish sauce instead. Some recipes actually use both soybean paste and fish sauce but I find that way too salty!

Light soy sauce goes best in this recipe as it’s already quite a strong taste – but you can substitute for dark soy sauce if that’s what you have – perhaps use a little less.

If you use milder (typically larger) varieties of chilli then dice them instead of simply slitting – as otherwise, you might not get much of a ‘kick’ from them.

How to make it

Cut the morning glory into 2 inch long pieces then pile them on a plate. Add the oyster sauce, soybean paste and soy sauce directly on top of the pile and set aside.

Heat a wok with the oil over a high heat. Add the garlic and chilli and stir fry for around 1 minute. You want the garlic to turn nice and brown but not burn so make sure the oil isn’t too hot before you add the garlic.

Tip the morning glory (complete with sauces) into the wok and cook for a further 2-3 minutes The leaves should wilt down like spinach. Keep tossing the wok to make sure that everything gets mixed together and the heat is evenly distributed.

Serve on a plate and tip any juices from the bottom of the wok over the dish. Delicious!

If you are looking for more great Thai recipes then check out these healthy chicken satay skewers or this Thai red beef curry.

Products that work well for this recipe:

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Morning Glory from above with chilli scattered around

Thai Morning Glory

  • Author: caroline
  • Total Time: 9 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1x


Simple, quick and totally delicious. This Thai morning glory is a great side dish for an East Asian curry or noodle dish and takes literally minutes to cook!

The default recipe serves one.


  • 50g / 1.7oz morning glory
  • 2 tsp canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 red chilli, whole with a small slit cut into the side
  • 1 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp soybean paste
  • 0.5 tsp soy sauce


  1. Prepare all the ingredients before you start to think about cooking. This dish cooks super fast so you want to be ready! 
  2. Wash and drain the morning glory place on a chopping board. Cut it into pieces around 2 inches / 5cm long. When you reach the leafy parts you can make these a little longer as the leaves will wilt down a lot. 
  3. Place the morning glory on a plate and, this is the fun part, dollop the soy sauce, oyster sauce and soybean paste right on top of the leaves. You’ll add them all into the pan at the same time. 
  4. Heat the oil in a wok over a high heat. When hot add the garlic and chilli and cook for around 30 seconds until starting to brown. You don’t want to burn the garlic so check a couple of pieces in the pan before adding to make sure the oil isn’t too hot that it sizzles into burnt black pieces! 
  5. Tip the morning glory and the sauces into the wok all together and toss everything together. Cook for around 3 minutes, regularly tossing, until the leaves have wilted down and the stalks softened a little. Use kitchen tongues to turn the ingredients if your wok tossing skills aren’t great.
  6. Serve on a plate and drizzle over any of the juices left in the bottom fo the wok. 


  • If you can’t find soybean paste then use extra soy sauce instead. The taste won’t be as authentic but it’s still delicious! 
  • You can mince the garlic instead of finely chopping, but it will require less time in the pan before you add the morning glory. 
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 minutes
  • Category: Side
  • Method: Wok
  • Cuisine: Thai


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 133
  • Fat: 9g
  • Carbohydrates: 9g
  • Protein: 3g

Keywords: thai, side, vegetables, asian

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