The green leaves of summer…

Well, it’s summer all year long in our equatorial climate so we can get these anytime…

Cangkuk manis plants

These are cangkuk manis or in Chinese, we call them mani chai or lakia chai (Dayak vegetable) while in Sabah, they have the miniature version that they call sayur manis (sweet vegetable). The Foochow/Chinese way of cooking it is very simple – just fry with garlic and add salt and msg according to taste, and egg…and even when cooked like that, it can be very nice as the vegetable has its special taste and sweetness and needless to say, it’s the favourite of many here.

However, to cook it, you would have to pluck the leaves off the stalks…

Cangkuk manis leaves

…and then tear them into tiny bits like this…

Cangkuk manis leaves - torn

…to make chewing and digesting easier. Having done that, I washed and rinsed them thoroughly and then , drained away all the water.

The other day, I wanted to cook it in a different, somewhat kampung or ethnic,  style – with sambal hay bee/udang kering (dried prawns) and these were the ingredients that I used…


I had some shallots and garlic, a bit of kunyit (tumeric) and lengkuas (galangal), a stalk of serai (lemon grass) and a chili plus one cili padi to give it that extra little bit of kick…a bit of belacan (dried fermented prawn paste) and a handful of dried prawns, soaked in warm water to soften.

I bruised the end of the serai and pounded the belacan and dried prawns together…and the rest of the ingredients separately…

Pounded ingredients

I also peeled some sweet potatoes and cut them into bite-size chunks to add to the dish…

Sweet potatoes

– I boiled them first so that I would not need to cook them for a long time later – in case the vegetable gets overcooked and would turn horribly black. You can just bring the water to boil and drain it away – there is no need to cook until the potatoes are soft or soggy as later on, you would be frying them with everything else and that would serve to cook them a bit further.

Once everything was ready, I heated some oil in the wok (you would need a bit more as the ingredients, the pounded dried prawns especially, will soak up all of it) and fried the pounded shallots, garlic and stuff first together with the serai

Frying the ingredients 1

…and then, I added the pounded dried prawns and belacan

Frying the ingredients 2

…until they were all nicely-browned…

Ingredients, browned

After that, I added the cangkuk manis

Add cangkuk manis

…and after stirring it altogether for a while, I added the sweet potatoes…

Add sweet potatoes

Put in a bit of salt (and msg, optional) according to taste and mix thoroughly. Add a bit of water occasionally to facilitate the cooking process but do not add too much if like me, you would want it dry – just a bit that would evaporate completely in the heat. Of course, you may want to add more so that you would have a little bit of sauce or gravy but that way, the sambal would be wet and that was not what I had in mind.

After frying for a while, I dished it all out…

Cangkuk manis with sweet potatoes

…and served.

If you do not have cangkuk manis, a good alternative with be daun bandong/ubi kayu (tapioca leaves), pounded not torn…and you may replace the sweet potatoes with pumpkin – that would be very nice too.

As for the meat dish that day, I tried the Singapore recipe/made in the E.U. luncheon meat that my friend, Philip, gave me…

EU-made luncheon meat

…and I would say that it was really very nice as far as both the taste and texture went – it was a bit salty though but that was perfectly all right as we had it with rice and it would be great too with bread, I’m sure. The ones that I grew up eating were not salty at all (or perhaps they were but my taste buds were not so sensitive then) and I loved them to bits, so much so that I would sneak into the kitchen all day to eat, slice after slice…and my mum would be fuming mad come dinnertime as there would not be enough left to go round. Hehehehehe!!!!!

Well, one meat and one vegetable to go with rice – that was a pretty balanced meal, don’t you think?

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

32 thoughts on “The green leaves of summer…”

  1. oooo… nice… try this daun kelor and see whether u like it or not… also known as moringa tree (those drumsticks that indian likes to put into curries and dhal)…

    Not too sure what that is and if it’s Indian, most likely we do not have it here…for obvious reasons.

  2. Never heard of the name, maybe I eaten them before, just that I don’t know the name, haha xD

    The green veg in pan mee… You must have seen it! Sometimes, they do not tear the veg – hard to chew and digest.

  3. My favorite vege, best when fried with egg. That luncheon meat looks perfect. Did you tell your mother “I was only joking” when she caught you?

    Kids those days, no joke, man! The rotan would have its final say, famous last words… Hehehehehe!!!!

    1. Back in my younger kampung days would help my mama plant them by the drain and would have soup all the time, of course not forgetting the eggs. Why your place no got hot soup one?

      Ya, we had it in soup when we were growing up but no egg – just garlic and salt & msg. Still, it was very sweet and we would drink all the soup, leaving behind all the vegetable…much to the distress of my mum. 😀

  4. Oh, my favorite vege too, in Pan Mee that is, haha, never liked pumpkin though, i find sweet vegetables a bit odd 😡

    Aren’t all vegetables sweet in their own way to some extent? If fresh, you can just boil and eat like that – so sweet, so nice…but Malaysian-style, we’ll ulam with sambal belacan – even nicer!!! Slurpssss!!!! But of course, there are the bitter ones like bitter gourd…but some, some people will also ulam, raw…like cucumber leaves, for instance!

    Btw, do you know that your link does not get “clickers” to your blog?
    404. That’s an error. The requested URL / was not found on this server. That’s all we know.

  5. Ok chup these two dishes from you if we were invited to go to your house for dinner again! Hahaha …self invitation… Yes i love sweet potatoes and pumpkin too… Kids are back.. I will try the spam with the ingredients above.,,hope they like it!

    No problem at all…and more, if only you will come! When? When?

  6. Hey. I know this mani chai! Haha. Finally something I know, and have tried before. I feel so dumb in all this food knowledge thingy. Haha.

    Have a happy Sunday Suituapui !!

    Yakah? No leh…all familiar stuff here, unlike some blogs. All the dishes or ingredients with names that I’ve never heard of – totally lost! Me so jakun one… 😦

  7. that dish seems healthy but yet still yummy to me,
    i mean it was hard to combined those two sometimes.
    anyway, i was planning to include veggies on m daily meal to
    so i’ll consider doing such

    Tsk! Tsk! Must eat some greens, roughage… Good for you!

  8. I like my mani cai fried with eggs only. 1st time heard mani cai cooked with sweet potatoes. Usually cooked lemak with pumpkins. Luncheon meat, also my favorite.

    Lemak with sweet potatoes, also nice…and we would add prawns, cabbage, bean curd sticks, glass noodles – what I don’t like is when we add a bit of this and a bit of that, we end up with one big pot – so much in the end!!!!

  9. Mani caiiiii!! My family had this inside joke that if you eat mani cai enough, you’d be prosperous in health and in wealth. =D

    We’d usually have them fried in a concoction of sambal and tomato sauce, but this is definitely the first time I’ve heard that it’s possible to cook it with sweet potatoes.

    Guess “mani”, which probably is a Chinese distortion of the Malay word “manis”, sounds like money and everybody wants to eat it in the hope that they would strike it rich – like midin, the wild jungle fern. The Chinese equivalent sounds like “million” so everybody eats it hoping to become millionaires. 😀

    The sweet potatoes are optional and one may choose to use pumpkin instead – just that I had sweet potatoes in the house and no pumpkin. We do fry mani cai with sambal sometimes…but never with tomato sauce. Eyewwwwwww!!!!! My missus fries them with garlic and egg and for reasons known only to her herself (I asked once and she said she did it all the time. Period!), she adds in oyster sauce which I do not particularly like but I would just eat… 😦

  10. Maybe one of the day, we shall have a bloggers meetup session at suituapui place with suituapui yummy yummy homecook dishes, kaka….

    No problem at all. I had a group who came over…and we had a get-together at my house. Recognise anybody?
    …and a grand dinner too:
    The problem is nobody wants to come here despite the fact that they had a great time here – you can check their blogs for all their posts on the trip!

  11. Very nice meal! I must try cooking the cangkuk manis (here it is called cekur manis) the way you do it. Must be very fragrant and flavorful. I love luncheon meat too 🙂

    Anything with sambal udang kering would be nice – even with kangkong, sweet potato leaves or paku…and for us here, midin, of course. All nice!

  12. Looks tasty! I remember cooking it with pumpkin after seeing your post last time, also very tasty.

    I think if the pumpkin is really sweet, it can be nicer even but sweet potatoes are ok too.

  13. Gosh, from the first photo, I actually wouldn’t have guessed that these were edible veggies. I’d have thought they were poisonous plants, really! But the end result looks delicious, especially with the sweet potatoes 😀

    Hahahahaha!!!! Lucky you, you don’t come from around here and you were not around in the 50’s – mothers would pluck the leaves and use the stalks to discipline their kids way back then! LOL!!! 😀

  14. Wah so complicated one your recipe!
    Cangkuk, I just goreng with garlic & salt. Good enough weih!

    There! I mentioned it in the second paragraph…with a bit of extra added though – an egg. We even had it in a very simple soup version when small – see my reply to Bananaz’s comment but don’t you think that is a bit too simple a recipe to feature in one whole post?

  15. Over here, the cangkuk manis is commonly used in pan mee only. I have tried the soup version with egg. Nice. Must try this version with sambal belacan…must be very tasty! Adding sweet potato or pumpkin, you say? Interesting twist but I think I will like just the plain version with sambal belacan 🙂

    Just fry like frying kangkong with belacan – will be a nice change from the usual garlic and egg…or soup.

  16. All time fav vege. I found out there are so many ways of cooking this dish but I still prefer to go with soup or stir fry with eggs.

    Yes, to each his own. I like it fried with eggs but not too crazy about it in soup.

  17. Wooaahh. This is something new. Mama usually cook the manichai with garlic. Maybe can ask her to try your way. Looks delicious. Hehehe.

    Can leave out the sweet potatoes…just fry with sambal hay bee/belacan like frying paku/midin or kangkong. Very nice!

  18. You are using Rejang hay bee? Wow!

    Your version look very good, and i do prefer our normal way to cook it. kekekekke

    Both luncheon meat and mani cai are my favourite!

    Just a bit. Still got some in the fridge but once finished, no more lah… Actually, the not-so-nice all curled up ones are not exactly cheap either these days… 😦

  19. Wow! Where did you take the first photo at?

    It doesn’t look like your house – didn’t know it’ll grow so easily, just like that.

    That’s by the side of one of the teachers’ quarters at Melissa’s rural school…

  20. Those GREENS…look LOVELY 🙂

    Nice, eh? But this veg, you can’t stir fry too long – they may turn black…owing to the high iron content or something like that. 😦

    1. Oh! ANd apparently I already commented on the greens 4 years ago! WOW!!! Thanks for the URL back to it, tho! Interesting! They look so different from dish to dish!

      Yes, and even if they cook it more or less the same way, it may still come out looking different. Some do it better than others.

  21. Love this vegie but the old folks always warn me to go easy because its rather cooling.

    Not easily digested too, I hear, so people with problems in digestion should not take too much. As far as it being cooling, not as bad as others like kangkong, bamboo shoots and so on – bad for people with rheumatism.

  22. I guess the cangkuk manis balance out the luncheon meat! 😉

    give me the luncheon meat alone and I would still be happy… lol…

    No lah, got meat, must have veg for a balanced meal. I wouldn’t mind stuffing the luncheon meat and egg in bread and eat as a sandwich myself though…

  23. This is new to to me. I can imagine how delicious it must be with the combination of all the wonderful ingredients. Must try this soon.

    Go ahead! I’m sure you’ll love it. Kind of exotic taste, very nice.

  24. This is new to me – both the cooking style (with sweet potato) and the leaves but I’m sure this kampong style dish is many’s favourite. Heritage food – Nice!

    Nice! Good with pumpkin too. I love this kampung-style kind of cuisine.

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at

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