This leafy vegetable is known as 'sweet leaf', is a shrub grown in some tropical regions. In Chinese it is called mani cai (马尼菜), in Malay it is called cekur manis or sayur manis.
It is one of the most popular leaf vegetables in South Asia and Southeast Asia and is notable for high yields and palatability. Its multiple upright stems can reach 2.5 meters high and bear dark green oval leaves 5–6 cm long. The flowers and small purplish fruits of the plant have also be eaten in Indonesia, the leaves of the plant are used to make infusion, believed to improve the flow of breast milk for breastfeeding mothers. It is a good source of vitamin K and also have high level of provita-min A carotenoids, especially in freshly picked leaves, as well as high levels of vitamins B and C, protein and minerals. The more mature leaves, the higher nutrient content of the leaves. This is the vegetable that we use in ‘Pan Meen’.
In Vietnam, the locals cook it with crab meat, minced pork or dried shrimp to make soup. In Malaysia, it is commonly stir-fried with egg or dried anchovies. My mum cook this in soup with either ikan bilis or dried prawns and an egg. Sometimes, I stir fry it with sambal belacan dried prawns. Its crunchy and has a bite. Whichever way it is cooked it is full of fibre and green goodness.
150 gm sweet leaf [mani cai] - separate leaves from stems - soak to wash leaves thorough and drain in colander**
1 tbsp dried prawns - washed and lightly pounded
1 tsp chopped shallots
1 tsp chopped garlic
600 ml water or 3 rice bowls
1/2 - 1 tsp salt to taste
1/4 tsp pepper
a dash of msg to taste
- Heat soup pot with a little oil to saute shallots, garlic and dried prawns until fragrant. Add in water.
- Let it boil for 5-10 minutes until aromatic. Add in the vegetable to cook through. Break in an egg and lightly stir to mix. Bring to a boil again and serve immediately.
- I was told that the type of sweet leaf that taste better are the ones with slightly curly leaves.
- To separate the leaves from the stem, just hold the stem at one end and push down with your thumb and index finger.
- To wash the leaves, crushed them with both hands then soak in water. Rinse several times and drain dry in a colander.
- Some people believed that diabetics should not take too much of this vegetable because it is 'sweet'.
- For more information on this vegetable, please refer to Fong's Kitchen Journal.
I'm submitting this post to Muhibbah Malaysian Monday hosted by Shannon of Just As Delish