Water Spinach (Kangkong) Stem Gising-Gising

Don't throw your kangkong stems away. Chop them up and make this spicy gising-gising served over roasted eggplant.
3–4 servings
Prep Time
10 Mins
Active Time
30 Mins

Kangkong stems, often discarded in favor of the leafier ends, turn into the unlikely star of this gising-gising.

Our chef, Selina, got this gising-gising recipe from her dad, who led a vegetarian lifestyle for over 25 years. Most of the prep time goes into chopping the kangkong stems into inch-long pieces. Simmering in spicy coconut milk gives them a tender bite.

What is Gising-Gising?
Gising-gising hails from Bicol, a region popular for its spicy coconut-based stews. This dish consists of red chilies and thinly sliced green beans (sitaw) or winged beans (sigarilyas) cooked in coconut cream, sometimes with pork. The name translates to "wake up, wake up".

This recipe has another unusual gising-gising ingredient: charred eggplants. Smoky talong adds a velvety, meaty body to go with the soft stems. Mash them as you would with tortang talong, season with salt, and slice into small slabs to make a bed for the kangkong stems.


  • 3–4 eggplants
  • 6 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 small onion, finely minced
  • 2–3 tbsp shrimp paste or bagoong
  • 2 red chilies, divided, whole and finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 lb (450g) kangkong stems
  • chicharon, for garnish (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Prepare Eggplant Base


Char eggplants: Prepare an open flame on a gas stove. Using tongs, place eggplants near the heat source to char the skin. Rotate eggplant until completely black on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover in plastic wrap, and set aside until cool to the touch. Repeat with remaining eggplants.


Mash and slice eggplants: Once eggplants are cool enough to handle, peel off the burnt skin until there are no black spots left. With a fork, mash the eggplant meat then slice into four pieces, discarding the stem. Season with salt and set aside.

Make Gising-Gising


Cook aromatics: Heat oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and onion. Sauté until fragrant and slightly translucent. Do not brown.


Cook kangkong stems: Add shrimp paste and chilies (if using) to the pan. Mix well to combine, then season with pepper to taste. Pour coconut milk into the pan. Once liquid comes to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer, 10 minutes. Add kangkong stems and simmer until tender, 5–10 minutes.

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Serve: Lay seasoned eggplant on a serving plate in a single layer. Pour kangkong gising gising over the eggplant. Garnish with crumbled chicharon (if using) and serve with rice.

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