Monday, October 15, 2007

Sayur Manis

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Stir-fried sayur manis with garlic

The sayur manis ('sweet veg') is native to Sabah so in restaurants it is usually labelled as 'Sabah Veg'. In Malaysian-chinese, it somehow is called sujaicai, which either means potato veg or small tree/shrub veg (I'm not sure about the Chinese characters for this veg, can anyone help?), which makes it very confusing doesn't it? I think the Malay name is the most appropriate because this veg does taste sweet.

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Sayur manis shrub

This is a very hardy veg that grows easily from stem cuttings into shrubs of 1.5 to 2m high. It needs minimal nutrients but lots of sunlight and is seldom attacked by pests although a planter friend has told me that because the veg is grown on a large commercial scale, it requires a lot of pesticides, especially against white flies. I've been lucky. I have two clumps of this veg that I first planted 10 years ago when I moved into my house and so far it's been pests-free. I think it's a neat plant to grow. The sayur manis is a perennial, meaning it can grow on and on unlike annuals which last for a year only. Each time you harvest it, you just cut it down to about 1.0 m above ground and new shoots will come up almost overnight. That means we get to harvest the shoots about once a week! We like to step out and pluck a bunch of shoots and leaves to throw into our instant noodles whenever, sometimes near midnight if we feel like a snack. In fact, writing this now I feel an urge to go get some. The flavor is just mmmm...

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The young shoots of the sayur manis.

This veg is SO yum that I haven't met anyone who doesn't like it, including foreign tourists. The best way to cook it is to stir-fry it with minced garlic, or with blacan (stinky but yummy fermented shrimp paste). However, the true Sabah way is to fry it with a beaten egg. This is especially if the veg is the original leafy type. A new type (or rather the same type but cultivated in a special way to get more shoots than leaves), is the shoot sayur manis with very little leaves. Most restaurants serve this type of sayur manis which people like because the shoots are very sweet, flavorful and crunchy.

A warning though. This veg, like spinach, amaranth (chinese spinach/hunchoy/bayam) and rhubarb is said to contain a lot of oxalic acids so those with kidney stones and gout should go easy on that next plate of sayur manis blacan.

16 comments:

Denise said...

First at all, THANK YOU VERY MUCH for posting this =p
Know why?! my Sabahan Fren in Melbourne!!! Cant figure out what is sayur manis, when I asked her to visit your "yue-lou meehoon" !! She said "can you take some raw sayur manis,so i can guess out what's that" !!.. I was like, impossible I bring my camera, go LIdo market and Take pic! !
Now I know, I should have brought my camera, and goto ur backyard =p
* Now, My fren finally knew what is "SAYUR MANIS" oredi... "
* Giggle *

Rasa Malaysia said...

OMG,I want that plant so bad in the US. Can't find it in the US and I looooove looooove them in my soup, with fish balls and beaten eggs! Best. Soup. Ever! My friend from Kuching tried to plant the tree but were not successful. :(

ChengLee said...

I have just planted some cuttings in my little garden. Showing sign of growth after 2 weeks. My sister have planted them successfully here in Brisbane. Can't wait to make some "pan mein" to go with it!

CK said...

My mum used to cook sayur manis leaves only, not with the stems. With the leaves kneaded into tiny pieces and stir-fired with eggs, it is so yummy!

Greg Wee said...

NEE: heay i think it is our mani chai...ck, correct or not?! those in pan mien rite
maybe slightly different!

Your garden is a real inspiration. My parsley finally growing hehehe...

Anonymous said...

Wow..freshness sayur manis! From your pics I can see the characteristic signs of freshness such as bright, lively qreen color and crispness. I can imagine with this freshness and right preparation and some of your homemade creativity, you'll make a wonderful sayur manis dish. By the way, your garden looks quite nice too....

Bento Pet said...

When we visit Sabah, we would order two plates of Sabah vegetables at every meal. My father in law would frown at us and ask if we never eat any other vegetable? Shakes his head up to the last day and asks again how come we are not fed up with it.

It is so, so delicious, how to get fed up of it??

Terri @ hungerhunger said...

okay,everybody, so it's agreed--sayur manis is the best veg ever!

rasa m: i should think you'll be able to grow it in Orange County if Cl can grow it in Brisbane. Just make sure the plant is grown in full sun, and plunge the cutting deep into the soil.

CK said...

To Nee: Yes, sayur manis is our mani chai. I guess the Hokkiens dropped the 's' in the pronunciation.

Shan said...

drool drool drool - my fave veggie of all time ever! I love the leaves cooked with garlic and some pork. Delicious!

Precious Pea said...

How come i can't find it here in KL????

Terri @ hungerhunger said...

shan:yes, me too! "sayur manis forever!"
PP: bc this is SABAH veg, haha.just be comforted tt u guys get a lot of other things we don't get here,hehe, feeling better?!but seriously it's just a matter of time bfore someone grows it there.so.

druid888 said...

sujaicai, which either means potato veg or small tree/shrub veg (I'm not sure about the Chinese characters for this veg, can anyone help?)

--> it refers to the latter... =)

hh said...

I know this is an old post, but I have to dig it out.

I went to KK just last weekend. This sabah veg was my number 1 veg when I was younger (at some point it was available in Johor where I grew up).

I found a Thai restaurant in Glenmarie here (near Shah Alam) that has this veg. Was sooooo happy about that, they said they got it from Melaka. Eventually, they don't bring it in anymore :(

We ordered this as often as we could during our trip. just can't get enough of it. If I go to KK again, I will bring some home to plant. hahahaha

terri@adailyobsession said...

hh: the sayur manis grows easily! just go to the market and get a bundle, the older the stems the better. when you get home, plunge them in water, upto 4 cm high. then plant them when you can in an open sunny area.
in brisbane, sabahans have this veggie in their backyards--grows very well there.

Yaati Nor said...

hai, malay call this veg is pucuk manis. Normally malay cook masak lemak putih with sweet potato..nyumy..

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