Stir-fry Watercress Shoots

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Did you know that ‘watercress’ originated from Europe? Used to be known as a poor-man’s food and often eaten stuffed in sandwiches. It was only introduced to Southern China at the end of the 19th century and was given the name ‘Sai Yong Choy’ (in Cantonese).

Here in Malaysia, it is made into the popular soup, ‘Sai Yong Choy Thong’ (in Cantonese). Slow-boiled with soup bones, usually chicken or pork, some dried oysters and a handful of dried red dates creates a wonderful aroma fit to satisfy a rumbling tummy on a cool stormy day. I look forward to this slow-boiled soup very often.

Often enough we give recognition to the soup but very few actually make it into a stir-fry. In a watercress stir-fry, only the young shoots are used. They are fresh, soft and tender and crunchy too. This is such a simple dish to cook but must be paired with lots of freshly chopped garlic and sea salt to bring out this exquisite taste.


300gm watercress shoots
5 cloves garlic (remove skin, chopped)
1/4 tsp sea salt
olive oil
filtered water


  1. Heat up a wok, drizzle in olive oil.
  2. Throw in the chopped garlic, stir for a few seconds and add sea salt.
  3. Add watercress shoots and fry till the shoots turn color to a darker green. Sprinkle a little water into the wok. Cut off heat. Serve hot with rice and other dishes.

Note : Do not over fry as the shoots will become limp and chewy.

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