Growing up in a Teochew Peranakan family, we always love this dish. My love for this dish was introduced by my late grandma, who was originally from Thai and then immigrated to China by marriage. I am not a great lover for water spinach but I enjoy them because of the sambal. This water spinach might not be easily available to you as depending where you live in the States. Well, if it is unavailable at your areas, you can substitute them with local spinach/choy sum. This dish is very common and popular in the Asian countries.
1½ pound water spinach/water convolvulus (Eng Chay/Ong Choy), washed and cut into 2 inches long
8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1-2 large fresh red chilies, coarsely chopped (optional)
4 tablespoons canola/vegetable/corn oil
Dried Shrimp Sambal
½ cup dried shrimps (Hay Bee), cleaned and soaked
5 dried red chilies, seeds removed and soaked
4 red chili padi (Bird’s Eye chili)
1 bouillon cube belachan, toasted
Pinch of salt
1 1/8 teaspoon raw sugar
1 tablespoon calamansi juice/lime juice
Use a motar and pestle/blender/food processor with soaked chilies, red chili padi and toasted belachan and pound/pulse until well combined. Drain out the dried shrimps. Add the soaked dried shrimps and pound/pulse until finely shredded. Add in the salt, raw sugar and calamansi/lime juice and mixture it well. Keep it aside for later use.
Heat a wok or frying pan with canola/vegetable/corn oil over medium-high heat. When the oil beginning to smoke; add chopped garlic and dried shrimp sambal mixture and sauté until fragrant. Saute for 2-3 minutes until oil look a light red color.
Add the water spinach and stir fry quickly for under 2 minutes. Turn off heat and transfer water spinach mixture to a serving platter. Serve with steamed white/brown rice.