Mong toi is the name of Asian spinach whose firm structure most resembles wild spinach. In English it is called malabar or ceylon spinach and in Chinese saan choy or poi choy.

Canh mong toi is a very simple and nostalgic dish with an overwhelming umami flavor content. Traditionally, this soup is made with dried shrimp which of itself has an umami taste. The soup is topped with fish sauce which gives the second umami taste explosion and Mong toi leaves have an earthy and the stalks a slightly bitter taste. That gives the dish a rich flavor and perhaps somewhat strange taste sensation, but the Asians are crazy about it because the spinach is packed with vitamins and antioxidants.

The dried shrimp can be replaced with fresh shrimp, tofu or pork and minced shrimp. Serve with rice table to neutralize the different tastes of the side dishes.


  • 1 l of water
  • 30 g dried shrimp (less to taste)
  • 400 g Vietnamese spinach (saan choy, choi poi, malabar spinach)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • ground pepper


  1. Soak the dried shrimps for about 30 minutes in a rice bowl with warm water.
  2. Bring 1 liter of water in a saucepan to boil.
  3. Cut the spinach leaves from the stalk, remove the stalks and rinse the leaves thoroughly with water. Cut the spinach into strips.
  4. Put the soaked shrimp in a colander to get rid of the water and chop them. Put the chopped shrimp in the soup pot and add the sugar and salt. Cover the pan half with a lid and simmer on medium low heat for about 15 minutes.
  5. Put the sliced spinach into the soup and add fish sauce. Make sure the spinach ly under the stock. Stir gently and taste. Add any additional sugar or salt to taste. Turn off the heat once the spinach is just wilted.
  6. Pour the soup into a large bowl and put some black pepper on top.