No prize for the correct answer – but who went marketing today?
I visit my vegetables seller at the local market about twice a week for my supply of broccoli and cabbages. Today, she recommended that I get mani cai for a change. In fact, she was very insistent because these stalks were young and tender and would make a nice vegetables dish for a change.
“Easy peasy to cook. Just mix in some eggs!”, she assured me.
Either my Foochow dialect needs improvement or I have an overactive imagination. I’ve stayed away from mani cai, because mani means ‘cat’ and cai means ‘vegetables’ in Foochow, with a little stretch of imagination, I had somehow translated mani cai into ‘Cat’s Pee’ or something associated with the awfully smelling cat’s pee!
In fact, ‘Mani Cai‘ ( 马尼菜) needs no introduction. This is a popular hardy plant that grows in nearly every backyard in Sarawak.
From Wikipedia (here), I found out that this supposedly local Sarawakian is not so local after all. It is an international vegetable with a global fan base – called ‘Amame Shiba’ (アマメシバ) in Japan; ‘cangkuk manis’, ‘cekur manis’, ‘sayur manis’, or ‘asin-asin’ in Malaysia; ‘pak waan’ in Thailand; ‘rau ngót’ in Vietnam; ‘Malay Cheera’ in Kerala -India and also fancy-smancily known in the botanical world as ‘sauropus androgynus‘!
Wow-zers! Do excuse my ignorance sweet leaves aka katuk aka star gooseberry… you go under too many aliases! (Are you working for Interpol?)
To prepare: Remove leaves from stalk – the stalk is not edible!
At home: Wash the leaves thoroughly before cooking.
Beat up a few eggs, I used 4 – the number of eggs is totally dependent on you. Remember to add a pinch of salt to the eggs to sterilise them – we don’t want to get salmonella, do we?
Add a generous drizzle of oil into the frying pan – Ms Vegie-Seller told me that mani cai absorbs a lot of oil, so I need to add more oil. I used Cold Pressed Virgin Olive Oil. First, I stir-fried the vegs, then add in the scrambled eggs. If you like, you can add a tiny teaspoon of chicken stock powder for extra taste.
Q.E.D (Quite Easily Done)
My Scrambled Eggs with Mani Cai aka Scrambled Eggs with Cat’s Pee! A sweet leaf vegetables dish packed with potassium and chlorophyll, a healthful cell rejuvenator, beneficial to the circulation and intestinal flora; fibre for regular bowel elimination and last but not least, protein for muscle building from the eggs.
If you spotted that the scrambled eggs were brown instead of the usual golden yellow, I noticed them too. I am thinking that perhaps the chlorophyll has somehow seeped through the leaves and stained the eggs. Never mind the colour/ presentation. The vegies were very sweet, very tender and not stringy at all – and terribly easy to cook!