I’d like to thank Wendy from Table for 2 or more for organising the Malaysia Food Fest. It’s such a meaningful exercise for us to get to know the unique dishes from each state of our country. And best still, I get to share some of the dishes I’ve grown up eating. Which is why I’m most excited about this month’s theme: Sarawak! I’ve previously blogged about some of my favourite Sarawak dishes here. The Sarawak month is hosted by Sharon from Feat of Feasts.
There are many Sarawak dishes that can’t be found in Kuala Lumpur unless you’ve brought the ingredients over to cook at home. Not this dish though. The ingredient is commonly found in markets and even supermarkets, some of you might even have them growing in your garden (Yen, for example). Sauropus androgynus might seem too grand a name, in Chinese it’s called Manicai, in Malay Cangkuk Manis or Sayur Manis, and in English, Sweet Leaf. In Sarawak we common have it fried with eggs, while over here it’s used with Pan Mee.
Everytime we go out to a restaurant or a kopitiam in Bintulu, I would always request for this dish. When done right it’s sweet, the slight chewy leaves are balanced with the soft fluffy eggs. Nutritious too, as it’s high in Vitamin K, A, B, C, Protein and Minerals. I could just eat this alone with rice.
There’s an important step involved when cooking this though. The leaves are originally bitter without this step. Basically you have to squeeze out all the juice by hand. The excess amount of this juice can be bad for your lungs, due to a chemical called alkaloid papaverine (the people in Taiwan learnt this the hard way as Manicai was once very popular for weight loss there and they were juicing it!)
Stir-fried Manicai with Eggs (source: My Mother)
200g Manicai (plucked from stalks)
1 tablespoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon MSG-free Anchovy Powder *
1 teaspoon light soy sauce (optional)
(That’s a very short ingredient list! Even shorter if you like to omit the light soy sauce. I just like the flavour)
*I personally do not cook with MSG, so I substitute with Anchovy Powder. If you want to use MSG, just add about half a teaspoon.
First, wash the leaves thoroughly, roughly tear with hand, and add the salt. Leave for several minutes, then squeeze all the juice out (you’ll inevitably tear some more leaves, that also helps in getting the juice out). Rinse, and squeeze again. Set aside.
In a wok/pan, heat 3-4 tablespoons of oil (you really need quite a bit to achieve that lovely sheen and moisture). Once it’s hot, cook the garlic until aromatic. Stir in the leaves in, when wilted add chicken stock powder and cook for about 1 minute. Add water when it starts to look quite dry (about halfway through).
Make a well in the middle, crack the eggs in and beat with chopsticks to mix. Once the eggs are starting to set, start mixing everything together, adding more water if needed. Stir in the soy sauce. Turn off the heat after about a minute or so. Serve while hot.
Now I can enjoy this dish anytime! Do try this dish out and you will not be disappointed. It’s much tastier (and therefore, more children-friendly) than Spinach!
For the non-Sarawakians: Have you ever had Manicai cooked this way?