Rau Muong Xao Toi – Water Spinach Sauteed w/ Garlic

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Rau Muong Xao Toi 1

This week’s Mom’s 52 recipe is for Rau Muong Xao Toi, a dish that was one of my favorites while growing up.  As a kid, I always loved the slightly salty crunch of the hollow water spinach stems.  If you have finicky little (or not so little) eaters who won’t eat their veggies, try this easy dish!

Rau muong, or water spinach, is readily available in most Vietnamese/Chinese supermarkets.  It may be labeled as ong choy and is usually sold in bunches.  Don’t worry about having to buy a large bunch – rau muong will get much smaller in size as it cooks.  Despite its English translation, rau muong does not have a flavor that resembles typical spinach.  Rau muong is instead quite mild in flavor, and you’re not left with any gritty spinach feel on your teeth from rau muong.

A variation of this dish is to add stir fried beef.

Rau Muong Xao Toi – Water Spinach Sauteed w/ Garlic

INGREDIENTS – to serve 2-3:


  • 1 large bunch of rau muong, aka water spinach – the markets usually bunch them into the size you need
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1.5 Tbsp. of oyster sauce



  1. Chop off the bottom 3″-4″ of the rau muong bunch, to remove the hardened lowest parts of the stems.
  2. Cut the remainder of the bunch into 3″ pieces.  If in a rush, just chop the entire bunch into 3″ segments (thereby also slicing some of the leaves).  If you have a little time, cut the stems individually, trimming each 3″ segment by snipping the stems between the leaves, keeping the colorful leaves intact.
  3. Wash the rau muong stem and leaf segments in a large, clean sink filled with water.  Drain in a colander. Rau muong is often homegrown by locals and with few pesticides before being sold by the market, so it’s a good idea to triple wash the rau muong, and check the undersides of the leaves for extra cleanliness.  Drain well.
trimmed & washed rau muong
trimmed & washed rau muong



  1. Heat 2 Tbsp. of EVOO in a deep skillet or large pot using medium heat.
  2. Add the sliced garlic to the heated EVOO.
  3. To keep the garlic from burning, immediately add 1.5 Tbsp. of oyster sauce to the skillet/pot.
  4. Add the drained rau muong to the skillet/pot.  Pile it on!  The skillet/pot will likely overflow with the uncooked rau muong.

    Pile the rau muong into the skillet.  It will cook down dramatically.
    Pile the rau muong into the skillet. It will cook down dramatically.
  5. Gently toss the rau muong using large chopsticks.
  6. Cover the skillet/pot, and cook for one minute.  Uncover.  Toss another minute.  Turn off the heat.

    Cooked rau muong will be at least half the size of uncooked rau muong.
    Cooked rau muong will be at least half the size of uncooked rau muong.

Serve Rau Muong Xao Toi with a side of jasmine rice.  This dish is also a good accompaniment to crispy fried/baked tofu strips.

Was this Mom’s 52 recipe helpful?  Do you have any questions about this recipe?  Please post your comments below.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll send your question to Mom! 

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7 years ago

My favorite!

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