Morning glory stir-fry – rau muống xào tỏi

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Thuy Pham serves up a vibrant Vietnamese morning glory stir-fry recipe, pairing this tender, vibrant Asian vegetable with flavours of lemongrass, garlic and chilli. If you can't get your hands on morning glory (you can often find it fresh in Asian supermarkets), you can use regular spinach instead, preferably a more mature spinach with stalks. We've included Thuy's recipes for crispy fried shallots and garlic – make a big batch as she does here and use in a plethora of dishes for up to a month. This recipe is taken from The Little Viet Kitchen by Thuy Diem Pham, published by Absolute Press. Photography © David Loftus.

First published in 2018

When I was growing up this was my mother’s go-to dish when she was in a fight against time with the daily errands and still wanted to squeeze in time to prepare a full Vietnamese family meal for when dad got home from a long day’s work. So, pull this one from your bag when you need a dish that takes minutes to make, but tastes like it took hours!




Morning glory stir-fry

  • 3 tbsp of sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp of garlic, finely diced
  • 500g of morning glory, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp of fish sauce
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp of granulated sugar

Crispy fried shallots

Crispy garlic

To serve


Begin by making the crispy shallots and garlic used to garnish the dish. This will make much more than is needed, but you can keep them both for up to a month – ensure you store them separately in airtight containers, and keep in a cool, dry larder
For the crispy shallots, heat the oil in a large deep-frying pan over the lowest heat for around 15 minutes. An easy way to tell when the oil is ready is to place a wooden chopstick into it – when bubbles form on the surface, the oil is ready
Add the shallots in batches of around 200g and deep-fry until golden brown. Remove the shallots with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat this process until all the shallots are cooked, then leave them on the paper towels
When you've cooked the shallots, fry the garlic slices for 1–2 minutes, until the garlic turns light golden in colour. Immediately remove the garlic using a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towels for 1 hour. Transfer to an airtight container and store in a cool, dry larder
Leave the shallots to drain overnight. Allowing the shallots to air-dry will help to preserve them. Transfer to an airtight container where they will keep for up to 1 month
To make the stir-fry, heat the sesame oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute, or until golden. Add the morning glory, fish sauce and the salt. Stir-fry for a few seconds, then add the sugar. Keep tossing from this point onwards to make sure that everything is mixed evenly and the sugar doesn’t burn or caramelise. After 2 minutes, take the pan off the heat and plate up. For the finishing touch, garnish with the crispy fried shallots, crispy garlic, sliced lemongrass and chillies
Traditionally, this would be served with other dishes, and rice, and always with a little dish of soy sauce with some sliced chilli in. However, I would be perfectly happy serving this as a light and healthy lunch by itself.

Born in Vietnam, Thuy and her family moved to London when she was eight, and now runs The Little Viet Kitchen in Islington, London.

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