When you think of “morning glory” what comes to mind? For most of us, it would be the pretty blueish purple flower but for those who have been to Thailand or other Southeast Asian countries, it means something quite different. Morning glory, or Pak Bung in Thai, is a long-stemmed leafy green vegetable that is traditionally stir-fried. The stems are hollow, like a straw, and the delicate leaves are long and lean.
Pak bung is not too difficult to find if you live near an Asian market. Pak bung is to an Asian market, like iceberg lettuce is to your local Safeway. I have never seen it referred to as morning glory here in the States, it is usually marked On Choy which is the Chinese name for this vegetable. I paid $0.99 per pound and it is usually sold in a 2 pound bunch. Just like any other leafy green veggie this will wilt down when cooked. Last night I cooked 2 pounds and it fed 5, with seconds, and leftovers.
Pak Bung is a very popular dish in Thailand. It is served on almost any menu and typically is prepared the same way: garlic, chilies, oyster sauce, sugar, and fermented soya beans. So simple and so delicious! I have posted pictures of my meals before and I think pak bung has made a guest appearance but I have never posted my recipe. I honestly could not tell you how many times I have eaten this dish but I feel like I could live off of it. It is delicious, Aroi maak maak kha!
What you will need (for about 2 pounds)
1 bunch Pak bung
8 cloves of garlic, smashed
2-5 chilies (optional)
3 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sugar (optional)
4 tbsp H20
1/2 c fermented soya beans
vegetable oil for wok
1. In a wok on medium-high heat, add the oil, garlic and chilies. Stir until garlic starts to give off aroma. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
2. Add pak bung, oyster sauce, sugar, and water and toss from bottom of wok.
3. Once pak bung has started to cook down and has changed color (this should take 5-7 minutes), add the fermented soya beans and give one last good toss. Transfer to serving dish and serve straight away.
Step 1, adding the garlic and chiles to the wok.
Washed and cut pak bung. Pak bung is almost 24 inches in length. If you had a HUGE wok, no need to cut, otherwise cutting the stalk into three’s works well.
Fermented soya beans and oyster sauce. Both of these ingredients can be found in your local Asian market, and possibly on the international foods isle of your regular grocery store. There are many, many different brands of oyster sauce and the fermented soya beans. For the most part the flavor is fairly similar to me with the different brands, but shop around and soon you will find the brand you like.
The fermented soya beans add a rich salt flavor to the dish. If you opt for less salt, give the fermented soya beans a quick rinse under some cold water.
Pak bung in Fay’s kitchen.
The finished product: Pad (stir-fried) pak bung w/garlic and oyster sauce.
Pak bung in Krabi, Thailand.
Pak bung in Chiang Mai, Thailand.