Rau muống xào tỏi, or stir-fried water spinach with garlic, is an easy Vietnamese side dish known for its vibrant greens, crisp texture, and aromatic garlic infusion.
What is Rau Muống?
Rau muống, commonly known as water spinach or morning glory, is a leafy green vegetable widely used in Southeast Asian cuisine, particularly in dishes from Vietnam, Thailand, and other countries in the region.
It has long, hollow stems and tender leaves, and its mild flavor pairs well with various seasonings, making it a versatile ingredient in stir-fries, soups, and salads. It is popular for its crunchy texture and ability to absorb the flavors of accompanying sauces and spices when cooked.
You can save the stems and shred them as a topping for a steaming hot bowl of bun rieu (Vietnamese Crab and Tomotato Noodle Soup).
Why this recipe works
- Quick and Easy: It uses a few pantry staples and takes less than 15 minutes to make.
- Versatility: Whether served alongside rice or noodles or as a complement to various main dishes, stir-fried water spinach is a versatile side that adapts well to different cuisines.
- Customizable: you can customize it with additional ingredients according to personal preferences.
⬇️ Please scroll down to the recipe card to see the full ingredient amounts and instructions ⬇️
This recipe uses 5 simple ingredients: water spinach (rau muong), cooking oil, garlic, oyster sauce, and sugar. The fried garlic is optional, but I think it enhances the dish. You can substitute the oyster sauce with mushroom sauce or soy sauce. Soy sauce is saltier than oyster sauce, so you may need to adjust the quantity.
Step 1: Trim the tough ends of the stems and discard any wilted leaves.
Step 2: Cut the water spinach into manageable, bite-sized pieces by breaking the stems.
Step 3: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch the cut water spinach in the boiling water for about 2 minutes or until the stems become slightly tender but still crisp.
Step 4: Drain thoroughly and set aside.
Step 4: Heat the cooking oil in a wok or a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, being careful not to burn it. Add the blanched water spinach to the wok, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes until the water spinach is evenly coated with the garlic-infused oil.
Step 5: Stir in oyster sauce and sugar over the mixture and continue to stir-fry for an additional 1-2 minutes until the water spinach is tender yet still vibrant green.
Step 6: Taste the dish and adjust the seasoning if necessary, adding salt and pepper according to your preference.
Step 7: Transfer it to a serving dish. Serve alongside your favorite main course.
- Use fresh and vibrant water spinach for the best flavor and texture. Look for crisp stems and vibrant green leaves without any signs of wilting.
- While the recipe calls for a pound of water spinach, you should buy about 1.5 pounds. You'll have a reduced quantity after trimming the stems and discarding wilted leaves.
- Cut the water spinach into bite-sized pieces to ensure even cooking and easy serving.
- Be mindful not to overcook the water spinach during blanching. It should be blanched only until the stems are slightly tender but still crisp. The ice water bath helps retain the vibrant green color.
- Adjust the heat as needed. Cooking over medium-high heat allows for a quick stir-fry without losing the crispiness of the water spinach.
- Stir-fried water spinach is best enjoyed immediately after cooking to preserve its vibrant color and crisp texture.
How to Store Leftovers
Allow the stir-fried water spinach to cool to room temperature before storing it in the refrigerator. This helps prevent condensation inside the container, which can lead to sogginess.
Transfer the leftovers to airtight containers. Place the airtight containers in the refrigerator as soon as possible, ideally within two hours of cooking. Use the leftovers within 3-4 days.
You can reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop. Reheat only the portion you plan to consume to preserve the texture of the water spinach.
What to Serve it With
I love this as a side dish for Vietnamese fried rice and thit kho (braised pork belly and eggs). But did you know that it also goes well with noodles? Try it with hu tieu xao (stir fried wide noodles with beef) or mi xao gion (crispy pan fried noodles). But my absolute favorite way to eat this veggie is to shred the stems for bun rieu! Check out this quick, 30 minute recipe:
Rau Muống (Stir Fried Morning Glory with Garlic)
- 1 pound water spinach | morning glory (rau muống)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced or sliced
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- salt and pepper to taste (optional)
- ½ tablespoon fried garlic, optional for serving
- Prepare the water spinach. Trim the tough ends of the stems and discard any wilted leaves. Cut the water spinach into manageable, bite sized pieces by breaking the stems.
- Blanch the water spinach. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch the cut water spinach in the boiling water for about 2 minutes or until the stems become slightly tender but still crisp. Drain thoroughly and set aside.
- Stir-Fry. Heat the cooking oil in a wok or a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, being careful not to burn it. Add the blanched water spinach to the wok, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes until the water spinach is evenly coated with the garlic-infused oil.
- Infuse with flavor. Stir in oyster sauce and sugar over the mixture and continue to stir-fry for an additional 1-2 minutes until the water spinach is tender yet still vibrant green.
- Taste test. Taste the dish and adjust the seasoning if necessary, adding salt and pepper according to your preference.
- Serve. Transfer it to a serving dish. Serve alongside your favorite main course.