Cangkok Manis or Mani Chai or Lakian Chai(as has been politically incorrectly called) has been a favourite of the Foochows since they landed in Sungei Merah in 1903.
When the Foochows first arrived they were supposed to be the agriculturists the Second Rajah was interested in transplanting on the deltaic regions of the Rejang. According to some of the documents available, the Foochows were given land to plant padi. Later they were given land to plant rubber and pepper. having a very good background in agriculture, the first Foochow settlers were very successful as they were hardworking and very desperate to make a fortune.
They must have seen the Malays and Ibans planting cangkok manis and eating the vegetable. They acquired the taste, along side kangkong too. These settlers had also brought along with them a lot of seeds of mustard green, bitter cucumber, and others like gourds and pumpkins. Thus domesticated vegetables were grown besides some of the local wild vegetables. Being very hardworking and good agriculturists everything seemed to grow well under their tender fingers. Everyone in the family lent a helping in growing vegetables, fruits and rice, and later , pepper.
My grandmother living in Lower Southern Village would always have about six plots of this vegetable.
The vegetable has a hardy stalk, lots of little branches with small leaves.
We eat them when they are about two to three feet tall. You should just break off the vegetable about a foot above the ground. Take about 10 plants. Once in the kitchen, you should just pull off the leaves from the small stalks or branches, wash them and they are ready for a good stir fry with eggs or some belacan.
A plant is deemed too old for the table if the little red seeds appear under the leaves on the stalks.
Most of the leaves are quite chewy if they are slightly too old. But generally when young these leaves are perfect. There is a sweet after taste actually. That is why the Malays call it sweet vegetable.
I love it as a soup, as part of my quiche (that's fusion cooking), and simply stir fried.
My family can eat it every day in fact!! It is just so good.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
Memoir by I Am Sarawakiana at 12:23 AM