You think I don’t know…

There is a new coffee shop in town selling authentic ethnic (Iban) cuisine, two or three doors away from the one that I usually frequent.

It has been around for a while now but I never did stop by to check the place out as parking is a pain all along that road (Jalan Maju) plus I was not all that keen on going here and there during the pandemic. I finally got down to it the other day and bought two of their vegetable dishes to take home and try.

The ladies said they came from Kapit (the one at that other place is from Durin) but no, I did not see any babi hutan (wild boar), just some pansoh ayam (chicken cooked in bamboo) but I was not keen on that as they usually use those old mother hens that are somewhat tough and may have an offensive smell. Even if they had wild boar, I would not want to buy as word had it that the ones from Indonesia were the carriers of the recent ASF (Asian Swine Flu) outbreak here.

Yes, we enjoyed the daun ubi (tapioca leaves) or what they call daun empasak or what we call daun bandong (that’s probably Melanau)…

This is a very easy dish to cook. You take the leaves…

…(remove the stalks) and pound or blend them before frying them with pounded ginger, ikan bilis (dried anchovies), serai (lemon grass) and add salt and msg (or ikan bilis stock cube) according to taste. I did blog about cooking it here, with pumpkin added.

Some people will tell you to just gosok (like what you do when scrubbing clothes on a washboard but I do not like it that way as these leaves can be quite a chore to chew and doing it this way is not enough and may take away some of the enjoyment of eating them.

One thing to remember is that these leaves must be cooked really really well. When we had them here

…I did not like what we were served because it tasted somewhat green, like it was raw or not cooked enough. According to this website, for instance, cassava (tapioca) are high in hydrocyanic acid which is poisonous, but when cooked the acid disappears… and be sure to discard the water the leaves are boiled in. Cassava or yuca leaves must be cooked for at least 10 minutes.

Thankfully, the one I bought from this “new” place was nicely done and we did enjoy it even though I do think they do it better at that old place.

I also bought this…

…that day but it was a let-down! It was in a covered glass casserole so I could not see what it was. I asked the ladies and they said it was daun kasam, pickled or preserved vegetables so I asked if it was ensabi (a very bitter vegetable that I do enjoy very much. You can find it at the jungle produce market – I don’t think anybody sells it in the regular vegetable section at the wet market) and they said yes.

When I got home, I found that it was kangkong (water spinach). Well, it did not matter that much that it wasn’t ensabi but it was EXTREMELY salty and the stalks were quite impossible to chew. I sure did not enjoy it and ended up throwing most of it away. Next time, if it is kasam ensabi that I want, I shall just go to that old place a few doors away down the road. All this while, when I bought things from there, they never told me anything was something when it wasn’t – don’t think that I don’t know these things!

Author: suituapui

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

6 thoughts on “You think I don’t know…”

  1. These people are not honest doing business. Being cheated once, I guess this will be your 1st and last time stepping foot there. Actually I have never tasted tapioca leaves or ensabi before. I heard that cucumber leaves and bitter gourd leaves also can be eaten. In short, all these leaves are out of my list…😊😊

    At the end of the day, they are all vegetables, some people may like, others do not.
    Ensabi is bitter and like bitter gourd,, there are people who will not touch it!
    Dunno why but when preserved, it loses its bitterness and tastes like homemade kiam chye (salted veg). I love it fried with pork belly!
    Tapioca leaves when cooked with lots of ginger and chicken will taste like kacang ma, minus the wine, of course. Very nice too!
    I’ve tried cucumber leaves once, nice too – my girl ate it in her jungle school and came home telling us that it was very nice!
    Never tried bitter gourd leaves.

  2. I once confused tapioca leaves for sweet potato leaves when I ordered the vegetable from the market via Grabmart. But it was a good mistake because I learnt how to cook it, by boiling till tender and then frying it with sambal.

    I would go for tapioca leaves anytime, not really into sweet potato leaves…ever since we grew our own and they went out of control and we ate till we got so sick of it!!! LOL!!!

  3. I haven’t tried cooking tapioca leaves. Ensabi leaves is new to me. No one likes eating chewing vegetables.

    Yes, those with tough stalks. I would pick the younger ones and the leaves, throw the bigger stalks away.

  4. Would love to try Iban food one day.
    We only have one orang asli tribe in Johore.
    They’re Seletar people. But I have to say I have not had Seletar food before.

    Daun ubi kayu is not usually eaten these days, hard to find them anymore.
    Its cousin, daun ubi keledek is more common.

    1. Yes, sweet potato leaves appeared out of the blue and became very popular. Nobody ate those before.
      You cannot get the root/tuber from planting those leaves though, dunno why.
      The only Seletar that I knew was the reservoir in Singapore, alongside MacRitchie.

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