Adobong Kangkong: The Filipino Dish You Need to Try

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Adobong kangkong is a dish made up of kangkong leaves or water spinach. It’s also known as swamp cabbage.

Adobo is an authentic Filipino recipe; the ingredients are easy to find and aren’t expensive. In fact, kangkong used to be referred to as a poor man’s vegetable in the Philippines. That’s because they’re inexpensive and easily grown in swamplands.


Unlike spinach, the leaves are quite fragile and easily bruised, so it’s best not to serve it as a salad. The stalks are hollow and edible as well.

In the Philippines, water spinach grows easily in watery places, so you’ll always see these on the market.

Adobong kangkong (full recipe here) is cheap but very delicious; it can be an appetizer or/and can be your main dish as well! It’s excellent served with hot white rice.

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Origin of adobong kangkong

There’s no specific documented history of the dish as such, except that adobong kangkong is a dish that staunchly finds its origins in the Philipines. That’s due to the fact that it borrows its recipe from the traditional variant of adobo, using soy sauce and vinegar as primary ingredients.

Apart from the Philipines, the dish is also commonly eaten in other parts of Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, China, and Thailand. However, each country has its own version of it.

Plus, the name of kangkong also varies from place to place. Chinese cabbage, Chinese watercress, Chinese convolvulus, water spinach, and water morning glory are a few among them.

What’s the Flavor of Adobong Kangkong?

The main ingredients for adobong kangkong are kangkong, pork, soy sauce, vinegar, water, onion, garlic, bay leaves, and ground black pepper. Here’s how to prepare it:

  • Cut the kangkong into pieces and save them for later.
  • In a bowl, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, water, onion, garlic, bay leaves, and ground black pepper.
  • In a medium-sized pot, sauté the pork until it turns slightly brown.
  • Add the mixture to the pot and let it simmer for a few minutes.
  • Add the kangkong and continue stirring until it is slightly cooked.
  • Cover the pot and let it simmer for a few more minutes until the kangkong is fully cooked.
  • Serve hot with rice.

Vegan Version of Adobong Kangkong

For a vegan version of adobong kangkong, you can replace the pork with sliced mushrooms or tofu. You can also add more vegetables like sliced carrots or bell peppers to make the dish more colorful and nutritious. To prevent the sauce from going too dark, you can use white vinegar instead of the usual dark vinegar.

Mastering the Art of Cooking Adobong Kangkong: Tips and Tricks

  • When making adobong kangkong, it’s important to use fresh kangkong or water spinach.
  • For the meat, pork is the most common choice, but you can also use seafood or ground meat for a unique twist.
  • The sauce is the heart of this dish, so make sure to use strong soy sauce and add a couple of bay leaves for a traditional flavor.
  • Don’t worry if you lack some of the ingredients, as adobong kangkong is a versatile dish that allows for a variety of substitutions.

Preparing the Dish

  • Clean the kangkong thoroughly and remove any hard stems.
  • In a medium-sized pot, sauté onion and garlic until fragrant.
  • Add the pork and cook until brown.
  • Pour in the sauce and water, and allow it to simmer for a short while.
  • Add the kangkong and continue stirring until it’s slightly wilted.
  • Be careful not to overcook the kangkong, as it can become mushy.
  • Remove from heat and cover the pot to allow the flavors to meld together.

The Secret to a Perfect Adobong Kangkong

  • The proper technique for making adobong kangkong is to let the dish sit for a couple of hours before serving.
  • This allows the flavors to fully develop and results in a more complex and delicious dish.
  • Adobong kangkong is also a great dish for meal prep, as it can be stored in the fridge for a few days and reheated for an easy lunch or dinner.

Serving Suggestions

  • Adobong kangkong is usually served as a main dish with rice, but it can also be served as a side dish to complement other dishes.
  • For a Chinese version, add sweet soy sauce and a touch of sugar for a nice balance of flavors.
  • To make it spicier, add some hot sauce or chili flakes.
  • Adobong kangkong is a staple dish in the Philippines, and it’s meant to bring people together over good food. So, don’t be afraid to experiment and make it your own!

How to Serve and Store Adobong Kangkong

If you have any leftovers, here’s how to store them properly:

  • Transfer the adobong kangkong to a container with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • To reheat, transfer the adobong kangkong to a skillet and lightly cook until heated through.
  • Adjust seasonings to taste, adding more soy sauce or pepper if needed.

Prep and Cook Time

Here are the prep and cook times for this adobong kangkong recipe:

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Servings: 4


Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make adobong kangkong:

  • 1 pound kangkong, trimmed and separated into sturdier stems and leaves
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


Here are the instructions for making adobong kangkong:

1. Wash the kangkong thoroughly and drain well.
2. In a skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat.
3. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until fragrant.
4. Add the kangkong stems and sauté for 2 minutes.
5. Add the kangkong leaves and sauté for another 2 minutes.
6. Add the water, soy sauce, vinegar, and pepper.
7. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until the kangkong is tender.
8. Adjust seasonings to taste, adding more soy sauce or pepper if needed.
9. Serve hot and enjoy!

Adobong kangkong is a delicious and healthy vegetable dish that’s easy to make and store. With these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to enjoy this flavorful dish anytime you want.


Adobong kangkong is a Filipino dish made with kangkong, a water spinach, and pork. It’s a delicious and nutritious meal that’s easy to prepare. 

I hope you’ve learned all the ins and outs of adobong kangkong now, and can enjoy it whenever you want.

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Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.