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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Stir-Fried Cangkuk Manis

Here’s another quick and easy dish I learned to make here in Kuching.

Stir-Fried Cangkuk Manis

stir-fried cangkuk manis

Cangkuk Manis (“Chong-cook Ma-Niss”, meaning sweet leaf) or Mani chai in Hokkien is a vegetable that is very common here in Kuching. As a matter of fact, the same day that we arrived here and were introduced to paku, we also got introduced to Cangkuk Manis. Its texture when cooked is like spinach, but without the bitterness. This vegetable has a natural sweetness to it (which is why it’s name has the word “manis” – meaning sweet - in it).

How Sweet It Is

My friend Paul and his wife, Adeline, told us that this veggie is really easy to grow. Cangkuk Manis is actually the leaf of a bush commonly grown in Southeast Asia. Contrary to what you read in an earlier blog post on Paku, it is actually Cangkuk Manis that you can grow easily from it’s stem. “Just stick it in the ground and pretty soon it will start to produce leaves again” was how Paul explained it to us. I haven’t yet tried to do this because it’s so cheap to buy Cangkuk Manis at the store. For RM1, you get a big bunch!

Cangkuk Manis for Sale at Stutong Community Market

cangkuk manis for sale at stutong market

We’ve also ordered this dish in several restaurants and most times we’ve cooked or ordered it, they stir-fry this vegetable with eggs. The sweetness of the Cangkuk Manis really complements the egg nicely. Be that as it may, I was puzzled that at one particular restaurant, their Cangkuk Manis stir-fry was always sweeter than the ones I made at home. From the instructions I had been given, it was a simple stir-fry—just some garlic, shallots, egg, cangkuk manis and a bit of salt. But somehow, when I made it, the veggie did not sing with sweetness the way this particular restaurant’s did.

Anyway, after asking around and not being able to figure it out, we went to yet another restaurant where the dish was also sweeter (in a savory way). And that was when it dawned on me, they used oyster sauce!

D’uh! I should have guessed and tried it earlier. After all, oyster sauce is one of my favorite condiments to put on stir-fry veggies.

So, in this latest attempt at stir-fried Cangkuk Manis, I added some oyster sauce and finally, I had the flavor mystery figured out. Try this quick stir-fry if you are able to find this vegetable near you. I believe that in KL, they use this same vegetable in their Pan Mein. If you know it by another name, would you share?

Stir-Fried Cangkuk Manis Recipe

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large bunch Cangkuk Manis, leaves stripped from stem and crushed
2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 shallots, sliced thin
2 eggs, beaten
1-2 Tbsp oyster sauce
1/2-1 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Stripping and Crushing Cangkuk Manis

stripping cangkuk manis leaveshand shredding cangkuk manis leaves

1. In a large wok, heat oil on medium high heat.
2. Add garlic and shallots and stir-fry for about a minute, until garlic is lightly browned and shallots are slightly translucent.
3. Add beaten eggs and stir them around quickly till they are all broken up and form little pieces. Be careful not to let them brown, you just want them barely cooked.

Stir-Frying Shallots and Eggs

stir-frying eggs and shallots

4. Add Cangkuk Manis leaves and stir around.

mixing cangkuk manis with egg

5. Add seasoning (oyster sauce, salt and pepper). Stir to incorporate the flavors. Add a little water if necessary to keep vegetables from drying out.
6. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Plate up and enjoy over rice!

Stir-Fried Cangkuk Manis

stir-fried cangkuk manis 2

Cheers, Annie

This post is entered into this week’s edition of Weekend Herb Blogging, administered by Haalo and hosted by frequent Grow Your Own contributor Graziana of Erbe in Cucina.


Kalyn Denny said...

So interesting. This is definitely something I've never heard about.

MaryMoh said...

This is my family favourite. The last trip when we went back, we ate almost everyday! I really miss this vegetable here :( MaryMoh from

Claudia said...

Well, probably if I were to find changkuk manis in the Farmer's Market here, would need to know the Filipino name. Let me know if you hear what it is.

This dish sounds so good. I'd like to make it.

Sharlene T. said...

Well, I'm not going to sit by my mailbox and wait until you mail me a stick! I'm going to go right out and get some of my chard and use the very same ingredients to see what happens. I know it won't be the same but it'll be close. Thanks, so much, for sharing!

seemie said...

I think I will look for Cangkuk Manis seeds!
Thank you for joining to Weekend Herb Blogging

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

I love cangkuk manis, especially in Mee Hoon Ker (hand pull noodle), but never try this way before. Must try it soon.

ICook4Fun said...

I don't think we can get this type of vegetable here in the US. I remember my mom used the vegetable in for our 'mee hoon kueh'

Valen said...

I've never heard of this before, but I love all vegetables so I'm going to look into this!

Single Guy Ben said...

LOL, oyster sauce = secret ingredient in most Chinese dishes! :) What an interesting looking green. I wonder if it's grown in California. Looks like it's easily grown. This looks like a nice, home-cooked meal, thanks for introducing us to it!

CJ said...

Why do you crush the leaves before cooking them?

Nate @ House of Annie said...

@all - thanks for your comments!

@Sharlene - you're welcome! Swiss chard would definitely have a similar texture, though not quite the same flavor. Let us know how you like it!

@Seemie - thanks for hosting!

@Sonia - hm, I'll have to keep an eye out for this dish!

@Single Guy Ben - I don't think I've seen this before in CA, but then again I probably wasn't looking in the right places. Perhaps a Thai or Vietnamese grocery might have them. Let us know if you do find them!

@CJ - because that's what everybody else does, and that's the way we saw it prepared. Good question! ;-)

Elizabeth said...

Interesting that the description is "like spinach but without the bitterness". Spinach is so sweet to our tastes (in comparison to rapini).

I'd love to try Cangkuk Manis stir-fried with AND without the egg. It looks beautiful.


(I wonder if we can grow it here in Toronto.)

Anna (Morsels and Musings) said...

this looks really good and something my vegetarian husband would enjoy. i've seen it for sale all over sydney but i think it's sold under a chinese name here.

thanks for sharing your recipe.