Mama’s recipe…

My mum used to cook sayur rebus for as far as I can remember and yes, I enjoyed eating it. This kampung-style cooking was probably handed down to her by my Melanau maternal grandma and I do recall how she would cook some of those traditional ethnic dishes in smaller servings as my dad, who was more into Chinese cuisine, was not into those and would not touch them.

It is actually very easy to cook – you only need to rebus (boil) the soup base and what you throw in is entirely up to you. This was one of the first things I blogged about in March, 2008 – there were no photographs in that post as I did not know how to add them at the time. I had a photograph in my post in June that year but I was using my cheap handphone camera at the time so the images were small and blurry and it wasn’t much better in August, 2009, a year later when I cooked buah tupang/puloh this way and in November, 2011, when I cooked rebus durian mantak (unripened durian). There was this paku (wild jungle fern) and baby corn combination with ikan buris/sai seng (a river fish) thrown in as well and of course, that added to the sweetness of the soup and brought the taste to a whole new level.

We had some sweet potatoes in the house that day and I decided to cook the soup with those but the few stalks of cangkok manis I had in my garden were barely surviving – no, they would not die and no, they would not grow either. There would just be a sprinkling of leaves and I manage to salvage this much…

Cangkok manis leaves

…and because some were quite old and kind of hard, I had to tear the leaves a lot more than usual…

Cangkok manis leaves, torn

…so they would not be a chore to chew.

These were the ingredients that I prepared…


Other than the sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks/cubes, you will need a handful of ikan bilis (dried anchovies) chilies and belacan (dried prawn paste) – you can add a bit more of the latter. I was skimping on it because our stock was running critically low and I was not keen on going out to buy. The udang galah (freshwater prawn) was an added bonus.

I boiled the basic ingredients in water and simmered for some time to bring out the taste before throwing in the prawn. Once it was cooked, the sweet potatoes went in. These had to be boiled till cooked/soft before the cangkuk manis was added and that would not take too long to cook. When it was done, I served everything in a bowl…

Sayur rebus - sweet potatoes & cangkok manis

…and yes, it was very nice and we sure enjoyed it to the max.

Not only is it easy to cook, no oil is needed, no frying and no salt – there would be enough in the ikan bilis and belacan but you can add more if you are thus inclined. That sure is healthy, don’t you think?

Author: suituapui

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

10 thoughts on “Mama’s recipe…”

  1. All the natural sweetness from the cangkuk manis, sweet potatoes and prawns sure makes the dish taste great. Nothing will go wrong with prawns.

    Have you tried this? You love our Melanau masak kunyit, our simpler version of the Malay masak asam pedas. If you are ok with belacan, you will love this. Can add less like what I did so the smell is not overpowering. Very nice and sweet!

    1. I guess I will love this dish too as I like belacan, of course, Bintulu one no less. Will try.

      Sobssss!!! No more Bintulu belacan in the house and I do not want to go to the central market, they do not really practise social distancing, everyone walking and standing so close to one another…and I do not even know if the stalls are open or not.

  2. Never try such soup. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    I guess not, Kuching born and bred. Your hubby may know of it? It’s nice, can give it a try. So easy to cook.

  3. That looks good. So flavorsome. Simple and yet tasty. I want to try but all I have is cabbage right now.

    Never tried cabbage but it may be good. Give it a try and blog about it. If you like it, I may follow suit.

  4. it’s very heartwarming to see what recipes are handed down from generation to generation. i’ve never had this preparation of sayur rebus before 🙂

    Of course not. This is ethnic Melanau kampung-style, not available in the shops, not even here. I did ask at one Malay stall here and the old guy said that the young ones these days would not be into this kind of dishes – they’d rather have burgers!

  5. Indeed this dish looks special…sweet potato with udang galah, something which I really never tried before as yet… 🙂

    We can’t get it here unless we cook our own at home, what more to say over at your side.

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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