Kong Xin Cai Recipe (a.k.a. Ong-Choy, Water Spinach)

Kong Xin Cai literally means “hollow vegetable”. Kong by itself means “empty”, Kong Xin together means “hollow”. I finally got that clarified with mom, otherwise, I always grew up thinking this vegetable was “hollow heart” or “hollow stem”. If I looked at the Chinese characters, I could only recognize Xin to be heart, so it was hollow heart. If I looked at the vegetable, the eye-brain-mouth processing resulted in my calling it the hollow stem vegetable since that was its defining attribute. Regardless, if I walked into a disorganized Chinese market with mismatched, unlabeled or undecipherable labels, that was how I found this vegetable. But enough on the moniker since wikipedia explains it all under ipomoea aquatica. Now onto the easiest recipe ever for making this dish…

Servings: Approximately 4-6?

Prep and Cook Time: ~ 20 minutes


  • 1 bunch Kong Xin Cai (as bunched from the market)
  • 5+ garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • oil
  • salt


1. Wash the vegetable and get rid of bugs, bad leaves, dirt, etc.

2. Chop the vegetable into ~2 inch segments, separate the stems from the leaves for cooking.


3. Heat the garlic bits in a nice drizzle of oil that easily coats the pan and then collects a little at bottom of pan.

4. When garlic and oil are nice and hot to the point where garlic is just beginning to maybe brown, throw in the stems and cook down slightly, sprinkle with some salt.

5. Add the leaves to the stems and cook all together, sprinkle more salt all over and mix it all up. Stir every so often til everything is cooked through, plate and serve.

This is the simplest and healthy way to pretty much cook lots of different Chinese vegetables. Practice and adjust your cooking time until your stems still retain a nice little crunch and the leaves don’t become a gooey mess, but to each his own. Good luck!

One question remains though, does this vegetable exist in Israel? If not, is it possible to start an Asian vegetables kibbutz?

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