Easy Rau Muong Xao Toi Recipe: Authentic Vietnamese Flavors

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Written By Hot Thai Restaurant

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Imagine diving into a dish that’s not only a staple on the dinner tables across Vietnam but also a delightful burst of flavors and textures. Rau muong xao toi, or stir-fried water spinach with garlic, is a beloved classic that brings a fresh, vibrant green touch to any meal. This dish captures the essence of Vietnamese cuisine, which is all about simplicity, freshness, and balance.

You’ll love how quick and easy it is to whip up rau muong xao toi. With just a handful of ingredients and a few minutes at the stove, you can create a side dish that perfectly complements richer, more complex main courses. Whether you’re new to Vietnamese cooking or looking to add a healthy and tasty green to your repertoire, this recipe is sure to impress.


To make this flavorful rau muong xao toi, you will need just a few simple ingredients. Be sure to gather everything prior to starting your cooking to streamline the process. Here is what you’ll need:

  • Water spinach (Rau muong): 1 pound, thoroughly washed and tough stems removed
  • Garlic: 5 cloves, finely minced
  • Vegetable oil: 2 tablespoons for stir-frying
  • Salt: 1/4 teaspoon, or to taste
  • Ground black pepper: 1/8 teaspoon, or to taste
  • Water or chicken broth: 2 tablespoons, optional for flavorsome cooking

These ingredients are easily accessible at most Asian supermarkets or well-stocked local grocery stores. Preparing the water spinach involves washing it under running water while separating the leaves from the tough stems, which are usually discarded or can be used in making broth if you prefer no waste.

Necessary Equipment

To ensure your rau muong xao toi turns out perfectly, having the right equipment is just as crucial as the ingredients.

Cleaning and Preparing Tools

Before you start cooking, you’ll need a few tools to help properly clean and prepare your water spinach. A large colander is essential for washing the water spinach thoroughly under running water. You’ll also need a sharp chef’s knife and a sturdy cutting board to efficiently remove the tough stems and finely mince the garlic.

Cooking Equipment

Once your ingredients are prepped, you’ll need the appropriate cooking tools. A large wok or frying pan is key to achieving the high heat necessary for sautéing, which brings out the lush flavors of the garlic and greens. Make sure you have a spatula or a pair of tongs ready for stirring and tossing the water spinach, ensuring even cooking. Lastly, it’s useful to keep a lid nearby in case you need to briefly cover the pan to steam the vegetables with added water or chicken broth for extra flavor.

Preparation Steps

Now that you have all your ingredients and equipment ready, let’s dive into the actual cooking process of making rau muong xao toi. Follow these steps to ensure your dish turns out perfectly.

Cleaning the Rau Muong

Start by thoroughly washing the water spinach. Begin this by filling your sink or a large bowl with cold water. Submerge the water spinach completely and agitate the leaves and stems with your hands to loosen any dirt or grit. Carefully lift the water spinach from the water, allowing the dirt to settle at the bottom of the sink or bowl. Repeat this process two to three times with fresh water, or until the water runs clear.

Once washed, use a colander to drain the water spinach. Gently shake the colander to remove excess water. It’s important the leaves are not too wet to avoid splattering once they hit the hot oil later in cooking.

Next, trim off the tough ends of the water spinach stems with a chef’s knife. The general rule is to cut about 2 to 3 inches off from the bottom. After the ends are discarded, separate the tender stems from the leaves. This is crucial as the stems take a bit longer to cook than the leaves, and this separation allows for even cooking.

Mincing the Garlic

With the rau muong now prepared, shift your attention to the garlic, a key ingredient that imparts a robust flavor to the dish. For optimal flavor, you should use fresh garlic cloves.

Peel the garlic cloves by crushing them slightly under the flat side of your knife. This makes the skin easier to remove. Once peeled, gather the cloves on your cutting board.

To mince the garlic, finely chop the cloves. Start by cutting them into slices, and then cross cutting until you achieve a fine mince. Be sure to run your knife through the chopped garlic multiple times to ensure the pieces are small and uniform. This helps them cook evenly and release their aromatic flavors more effectively into the dish.

Cooking Instructions

Now that you have your water spinach cleaned and prepped and the garlic minced, let’s head to the stove. You’re just a few steps away from a delightful plate of rau muong xao toi.

Frying the Garlic

Begin by heating two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large wok or frying pan over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add your minced garlic. Stir frequently to prevent the garlic from burning. You want to achieve a light golden color, which typically takes about 1 to 2 minutes. This step is crucial as it releases the aroma that is quintessential to this dish, setting the base for the stir-fry.

Stir-Frying the Rau Muong

With the garlic golden and aromatic, increase the heat to high and immediately add the water spinach stems. Stir them briskly with the garlic for about 2 minutes. These thicker parts take longer to cook, so giving them a head start ensures everything finishes cooking at the same time.

After 2 minutes, add the leafy parts of the water spinach. Continue to stir-fry the mixture, using tongs to toss the leaves and stems together to ensure even cooking. If the pan seems dry, you can add a few tablespoons of water or chicken broth. This will help to steam the vegetables slightly while continuing to stir-fry.

Cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until the leaves are wilted but still vibrant green, crisp, and the stems are tender. Taste and, if needed, season with a pinch of salt or a splash of soy sauce for extra flavor. Remove the pan from heat, and serve immediately while hot and sizzling. Enjoy the robust flavors of this simple yet delicious Vietnamese staple.

Serving Suggestions

After mastering the art of cooking Rau Muong Xao Toi, presenting it in an appealing manner enhances the dining experience. Here are various ways to serve this vibrant Vietnamese dish to delight your family or guests.

Accompany With Rice

Traditionally, Rau Muong Xao Toi pairs excellently with steamed jasmine rice. The subtle fragrance of the rice complements the garlic-infused greens, creating a balanced plate both in flavor and nutrition. Simply scoop some freshly steamed rice onto a plate and top it with a generous serving of your sautéed water spinach.

Include It in a Family-style Meal

In Vietnamese cuisine, meals often consist of multiple dishes served family-style. Include your Rau Muong Xao Toi alongside other dishes such as grilled meats, soups like Pho or a fish dish. This not only offers variety but also allows the flavors from different dishes to blend beautifully on the palate.

Top With Fried Eggs

An additional tip to enhance Rau Muong Xao Toi is to top it with a fried egg. The creamy yolk melds with the savory greens, adding richness and depth. Simply fry an egg to your liking (over-easy to over-hard depending on your preference) and place it atop the greens right before serving.

Serve With a Side of Protein

If you wish to add more protein to your meal, consider pairing the Rau Muong Xao Toi with grilled tofu, shrimp, or chicken. These proteins can either be mixed into the dish at the end of cooking or served on the side to maintain their distinct flavors.

Offer a Variety of Condiments

To tailor the dish to individual tastes, offer a variety of condiments on the side. Typical choices include soy sauce, fish sauce, or a splash of lime. Each of these adds a unique dimension to the dish and can be adjusted according to personal preference.


Now that you’ve got the hang of making rau muong xao toi it’s time to bring this vibrant dish to your table. Whether you’re enjoying it solo or as part of a larger feast it’s sure to impress with its simplicity and depth of flavor. Don’t forget to play around with the toppings and sides to find your perfect combination. Here’s to many delightful meals that bring a taste of Vietnam right into your kitchen!

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