I’ve been wanting to share this for a long while now but somehow, I never got round to doing it mainly because, usually, my missus would be the one cooking and she would do it her own way…or in all the other ways possible which are just as nice, if not nicer.

This is our cangkuk manis

Cangkuk manis

…or in Chinese, mani chai or some would call it lakia (Dayak) chai, the favourite of many around here. There is also the smaller version from Sabah called the sayur manis (sweet vegetable) which is more or less the same thing – the only difference is in the size.

I’ve been eating it since young and our way of cooking it is very very simple – I don’t know if it’s the Foochow style of frying the vegetable but it certainly is as simple and easy, typical of most Foochow dishes and no less tasty. For one thing, the leaves have to be removed from the stalks/stems (which many say were used by their mums to cane them whenever they were naughty when they were small) and torn into small bits like this…

Cangkuk manis - torn

I seem to notice that at many Malay stalls, they do not do it so the vegetable is not as easily chewed plus this would also help bring out its sweetness and taste. My missus would insist on the bits being smaller but I am ok with it like this.

First, you fry some finely-chopped garlic in a bit of oil till golden brown…


…but the sliced chili is optional…


For one thing, normally, the traditional Foochows were not really into spicy stuff so they would not have any chili in most of their cooking.

Next, you put in the vegetable…


…and fry it till cooked. To accelerate the cooking process, you can add a bit of water but just a little bit – enough to get that sizzling in the wok but not so much as to drown the vegetable and everything else. There are places here in town where this dish has so much gravy/sauce or worse, some may even add corn starch so it ends up thick and sticky. I don’t like it like that, not at all…and that was not how we had it when I was growing up.

Once it is more or less done, add an egg…


…and mix it altogether.

In the old days, my Β mum would season the dish with salt and msg but I broke off a little bit of an ikan bilis (dried anchovies) stock cube and used that instead. Having done that, simply dish it all out of the wok and serve…

Fried cangkuk manis with egg

Easy, isn’t it?

On that day in question, I also fried one white/silver pomfret (ikan bawal putih) and prepared some cincaluk (fermented shrimps) dip to eat it with and also with some cut cucumber…

Menu of the day

Yes, that is how our daily meals are, usually – simple, nothing fancy at all…unless somebody is in the mood to cook something special that otherwise we would just save for some festival or special occasion.

Too bad I only got this that evening…

Nyonya sauce

…or I could have used it to steam the fish. I gathered that if you send things through one of those POSLAJU counters at some mall somewhere (which are open on Saturdays), not at their office or a post office, it would take longer to be delivered plus during festival time when all the flights into town are full with all the passengers bringing a whole lot of stuff home to celebrate, the airline people may offload the mail so delivery may be delayed. I guess that was why I got this a day late…but never mind, as they say, better late than never and thank you so much, Merryn, for sending it to me. I don’t think we can get that here and I have not seen it around…and I sure can’t wait to try it at the earliest opportunity.

And talking about festivals, it’s the 1st of June today – the Gawai Dayak Festival here in Sarawak, so here’s wishing all my Dayak friends and readers…

Gawai greeting


Author: suituapui

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

18 thoughts on “Share…”

  1. I hope you will like that Nyonya Sauce, Arthur. I don’t know what to do with that too as my mom’s the one always cooking with it. I’m sure you’ll do justice to it. You always do with your special ‘extra’ ingredients πŸ™‚

    Ahhhhh!!!! Just got a red snapper from my BIL yesterday, big one. Will steam it with the sauce – bet it’s going to be nice!

  2. I like that cangkuk manis, my mom uses them to boil a soup (with anchovies, egg and fish balls) which is my all time favorite πŸ˜€

    I remember my mum cooked it in soup plain with just garlic & seasoning. It was very sweet, so nice…but we drank all the soup and left the veg behind – not much taste anymore, all gone into the soup. I wonder if I cook it like that today, whether it will still be as nice. Somehow, it did seem sweeter in the good ol’ days… 😦

  3. Cangkuk manis, I like the name πŸ˜‰

    It’s sweet (manis) and cangkuk means grafting – I think that stems from the fact that you just stick the cutting of the stalks into the ground to plant it. So easy.

  4. Love mani chai cooked this way. I like belacan with mine too.
    Selamat Hari Gawai.

    Yes, or with hay bee. Selamat Hari Gawai to you too…

  5. That’s the way I cooked the mani chai but minus the chilli. I like mine tear into tiny bits too..but in pan mien, I notice they didn’t tear at all and find it hard to chew and swallow. Oh boy, the fish and cincaluk, just this, I can assure you I will have a good appetit.

    Not a fan of pan mien especially the soup, ok with the dry version. At least, they do not give so much so not all that much to chew. Ya…with the cincaluk, sure will have a second helping of rice one… Bad, bad!!! πŸ˜€

  6. Simple but truly enough… like the combination a lot… cucumber with sambal.. best! Agree with Merryn… sure you will do good justice to the sauce you received.. will be looking out for your dish!

    I must say that I enjoy meals such as this a lot more than what I can get at many stalls and shops outside.

  7. Now that I see that vegetable more clearly, I can confirm that it is what I know as cekor manis. My dad has some in the garden I think and he likes to put it in his Maggi mee. I have not eaten it for a long time. If I do see it at the supermarket, I’ll be sure to buy and try the way you cook it. But wow, so much work to tear all those leaves to smaller pieces!

    Yes, a real chore…and I hate how the bits would stick to the fingers. No choice though, this veg is not as nice if not torn like this.

  8. love these simple home cooked food!

    Yes, a welcome change from what one gets outside…and more often than not, nicer too.

  9. i like looking at your cangkuk photos and recipes … it’s exactly the sort of leafy vegetable that’s my favourite genre of veggies, heheh πŸ™‚

    Good for the system, must eat more. πŸ˜‰

  10. Lakia chai, i love it, but i don’t know how to cook. I heard from my mum, have to use a lot oil in order to cook a nice one. Yours do look easy. Usually we don’t tear it, just cook it and i am ok with it.

    Yes, about the stem! My grandma use it as “rotan” to cane me when i am naughty! hahahahhahahahha!!!!

    Hahahahahahaha!!! You were a bad little girl hor!!! I didn’t get those…but my mum always had a cane in the house and used that very generously. πŸ˜€

  11. Do you know if those zi char that cook manicai put in lard? I usually taste a distinctive taste with the manicai cooked outside compared to home-cooked ones and I speculate it is attributed to lard.

    That’s possible. In my growing up years, my mum would cook everything using lard – she had a pot of it ready for use. That was why her tossed noodles (mee kua) tasted much nicer than what I would be able to dish out myself. I hear you can buy lard from the sellers these days – no need to but the fat and melt your own.

    For one thing, there, the dish is served piping hot, straight from the wok – of course, it will be much nicer…plus they use a lot more oil (you can see it glistening in the snapshots) and msg. I’m cutting down on those these days,

  12. Ok I must try cooking the cangkuk manis this way. Over here the cangkuk manis not so popular and normally one would see them being used in pan mee only.
    By the way, your fried fish look absolutely gorgeous!!

    Perfectly done, eh? Hehehehehehe!!!! We used to fry till really crispy, could eat the bones – Melissa liked it that way but I thought it wasn’t that nice anymore. Thankfully, she has outgrown that so we can fry it properly now.

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