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Kangkung Tumis Terasi

Learn how to cook Indonesian most beloved vegetable dish, kangkung tumis terasi (stir-fried water spinach), with a primer on terasi/belacan/shrimp paste.

Kangkung tumis terasi, also known as kangkung cah terasi, kangkung tumis belacan, or kangkung cah belacan, is one of the most beloved vegetable dish throughout Indonesia (also Malaysia and Singapore). This vegetable dish is very easy to prepare, and I think it is a good and gentle way to introduce the stinky terasi/belacan/shrimp paste to the uninitiated. :D

Ingredients to prepare kangkung tumis terasi.

Ingredients to prepare kangkung tumis terasi.

What is kangkung?

Kangkung is a very common vegetable grown throughout Southeast, East, and South Asia. Because of this, different nations have differents names for this vegetable. Indonesians and Malaysians call this vegetable kangkung, but in the US, your grocery store most likely labels this either as on choy (蕹菜), water spinach, or Chinese spinach.

Throughout Southeast Asia, it is safe to say that almost everyone has tasted and even growing up eating lots of kangkung tumis terasi. In Indonesia, we also blanched/boiled kangkung and eat them as part of gado-gado, pecel, or turn it into a plecing dish.

Kangkung tumis terasi - Water spinach stir-fry with spicy shrimp paste sauce.

Kangkung tumis terasi - Water spinach stir-fry with spicy shrimp paste sauce.

What is terasi/belacan?

Terasi/belacan is made from tiny shrimps fermented with salt. It is sold in a block, has the color of dark chocolate, and is actually quite soft (softer than a chocolate bar).

If you have tried fish sauce, then you can imagine terasi/belacan as a super-concentrated form of fish sauce, though to me, the flavor profile of terasi/belacan is more complex.

How do I use terasi/belacan?

If you encounter a recipe calling for terasi/belacan, simply cut a tiny piece from the big block (say 1 teaspoon, 2 teaspoons, e.t.c.), then toast that tiny piece using one of the following methods:

  • grab with a pair of stainless steel tongs, and toast with an open flame. This only works if you have a gas stove, and is the most traditional way of toasting terasi/belacan.
  • dry frying in a frying pan
  • toast in a toaster oven
  • microwave for 30 seconds

Since I am lazy, needless to say, my favorite method is the microwave option. But do whatever you need to toast terasi/belacan before using it. Also, you may want to open all your kitchen windows to remove the stinky fishy odor from your house. ;)

Once you have opened a new packet of terasi/belacan, you want to store the leftover (which is a lot and should last a while) wrapped with 2-3 layers of parchment papers and then put it in 1-2 ziplock bags and just stashed in the fridge until needed.

Kangkung tumis terasi - Water spinach stir-fry with spicy shrimp paste sauce.

Kangkung tumis terasi - Water spinach stir-fry with spicy shrimp paste sauce.

Kangkung Tumis Terasi

5.0 from 16 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson




Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 15 mins

Total Time: 30 mins

Serves: 4

Print Recipe


  • 1 bunch (500 gram/1.1 lb) kangkung/on choy/water spinach
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • thinly sliced red chilies, for garnish (optional)
  • Spice paste (grind/puree the following ingredients)
  • 2-5 red Fresno chilies, seeded
  • 1-5 red bird-eye chilies, seeded
  • 50 gram shallot
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried anchovies, toasted (Indonesian: ikan teri, Malaysian: ikan bilis)
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste, toasted (Indonesian: terasi, Malaysian: belacan)


  1. Wash and drain kangkung/water spinach, making sure that the vegetables are dry to prevent splattering. Cut into 3-4 inch sections. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Fry spice paste until fragrant, then add diced tomatoes and cook until wilted.
  3. Add kangkung/water spinach, water, salt, pepper, and sugar. Cover the wok and only open the lid once kangkung/water spinach has wilted. Stir to mix. Continue cooking until kangkung is tender and the sauce is slightly reduced.
  4. Turn off heat, transfer kangkung to a serving platter. Garnish with thinly sliced chilies (optional), and serve with steamed white rice.
Indonesian Pantry
Indonesian Kitchen


  • Helen Of Fuss Free Flavours Helen Of Fuss Free Flavours says:

    It's always really interesting to read about ingredients I wouldn't usually use. This dish sounds really tasty, and I love the use of the veggies. It would be a tasty dish to make up at the weekend instead of any takeaway.

  • Mary Mary says:

    Thanks for all the great info! I wasn't sure what terasi/belacan was before this!

  • Dannii Dannii says:

    We are always looking for new ways to get more greens in our diet. This looks delicious.

  • Sara Welch Sara Welch says:

    Such a flavorful stir fry! Packed with flavor and easy too; saving to make this again in the near future!

  • Sophie Sophie says:

    This is a very new and interesting dish. I love fresh flavors and this is my kind of thing.

  • Vicky Vicky says:

    Wow! Never heard of this dish before! Definitely want to try soon!

  • Kelley Kelley says:

    I bet this recipe has so my flavor! It looks amazing!

  • Jeannette Jeannette says:

    I LOVE this dish! So delicious and satisfying! Thanks for sharing an amazing recipe!

  • Kushigalu Kushigalu says:

    Sounds very interesting. Something new to me. Fresh and flavorful.

  • Cate Cate says:

    This recipe looks amazing and like something new to try! Saving for later! :)

  • Sadia Malik Sadia Malik says:

    Interesting.... so just to be clear you will not freeze the terasi?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Yes, there is no need to freeze terasi. Simply store it in the fridge, and it should be okay. Remember to wrap with several layers of parchment paper/aluminum foil and place it inside a zip lock bag so the smell will not permeate the whole fridge. :)

  • Dannii Dannii says:

    This looks delicious! Greens with loads of flavours sounds perfect to me.

  • Jenn Jenn says:

    I'm a huge veggie lover and particularly love stumbling across a veggie that I've never used before. I tried this recipe, and it was fabulous! easy enough for a weeknight dinner, too!

  • veena Azmanov veena Azmanov says:

    A delicious stir fry dish and awesome flavor too. Love to check on this unique and special recipe.

  • Heidy M Heidy M says:

    This looks outstanding and I am looking forward to broadening my menu with foods that I have yet to try. I am excited to make this kangkung tumis terasi soon!

  • Al Al says:

    Tried it and delicious!!! Thank you for sharing this recipe

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