Plencing Solo: Blanched Morning Glory with Sambal

Plencing solo is a Javanese salad of blanched kangkung, or water spinach, served with a tamarind and shrimp paste sambal. It doesn’t require any oil, and is healthy and refreshing.

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Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk hails from Solo, the historic royal capital and cultural centre of Java, Indonesia. She has been cooking since the age of 12, and also performs and teaches traditional Javanese dance. Her dream is to eventually write her own Indonesian cookbook.

If you have a bunch of kangkung, aka water spinach, morning glory, water convolvulus, swamp cabbage, or whatever it is called in English, and do not feel like stir frying it, try this recipe. 

Plencing Solo is a traditional Solonese dish made of blanched water spinach, smothered in sambal sauce. Traditionally, there are two versions of the dish. One is called plencing Solo and the other is brambang asem. The only difference is the vegetable used: plencing Solo uses water spinach, while brambang asem uses sweet potato leaves. As for the sambal, they both share exactly the same ingredients and cooking methods. The sambal is made of chilli, salt, palm sugar, shrimp paste,shallots and tamarind. In Javanese, shallots are called brambang and tamarind is called asem. Hence the name of one of the versions: brambang asem

Plencing Solo and brambang asem are often enjoyed as a snack on a hot day. Traditionally, it is served in a pincuk (banana leaf made into a serving container by folding and securing one side of the leaf using a toothpick). The vegetables are placed in the pincuk and doused with the sambal. We hold the bottom of the pincuk by cupping it with one hand, while using the other free hand to mix and eat the dish (we use only the thumb and index finger for this). Spoons and forks are really unnecessary. Everything is completely natural. After we finish eating, we just throw away the pincuk. No washing needed and it’s environmentally friendly. I just love the old traditional way!



To accompany the dish, tempe gembus, or fermented tofu dreg, is normally added. This is usually cooked bacem-style. Unfortunately tempe gembus is not widely available outside Solo and Yogyakarta. It really makes one want to visit those cities for more culinary adventures!

People often refer to plencing Solo or brambang asem as seger, an expression in Javanese and Bahasa Indonesia meaning ‘deliciously refreshing’. Compared to lots of other Indonesian food, which are often drenched in cooking oil, this oil-less dish is invigorating. Plencing Solo offers a healthier option without compromising the flavour. It’s refreshingly sweet, spicy, sour and crunchy yet soft. What a perfect choice for a hot day!

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Plencing Solo: Blanched Morning Glory with Sambal

Plencing Solo: Blanched Morning Glory with Sambal

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Vegetables
  • Method: Blanching
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Gluten Free


Plencing solo is a Javanese salad of blanched kangkung, or water spinach, served with a tamarind and shrimp paste sambal. It doesn’t require any oil, and is healthy and refreshing.


  • 500 gr kangkung (1 bunch)
  • 3 bird’s eye chillies
  • 1 big red chilli
  • 5 shallots, peeled
  • 0.5 tsp roasted shrimp paste
  • Salt to taste
  • 50 gr palm sugar, shaved
  • 1 tbsp tamarind
  • Water for blanching


  1. Blanch the kangkung in boiling water for about 2 minutes, set aside.

    Blanch the kangkung

  2. Broil the shallots until done (around 3 minutes).

    Broil the shallots

  3. Using mortar and pestle, pound into a fine paste: chillies, shallots, shrimp paste and salt.

    Pound chillies, shallots, shrimp paste and salt

  4. Add the shaved palm sugar, then add the tamarind. Blend everything into a fine, liquidy paste.

    Blend everything into a fine, liquidy paste

  5. Add the sambal dressing to the blanched kangkung, toss until everything mixes together.
  6. Serve the dish immediately.

    Plencing Solo is ready


  • Kangkung can be replaced with sweet potato leaves. Sweet potato leaves are softer than kangkung and the dish will become brambang asem instead.
  • Plencing Solo is not to be confused with plecing kangkung, a dish from Lombok.

Keywords: Quick and easy, healthy, spicy, tamarind

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