Celebrating Food! Celebrating Life!

Telur Cangkok Manis 马尼菜炒蛋

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As far as I remembered, vegetables have always been part of our staples over the dinner table for almost every meal. My mother made it a point to incorporate vegetables whenever she can in our meals since young, very simple dishes like garlic stir-fry of sawi greens,  or a spinach with ikan bilis soup, and of course cabbage in our all-time favorite, 高丽菜饭  gor leh cai png, i.e. one-pot cabbage rice. The spread of vegetables were usually our local fanfare of 菜心 choy sum, 苋菜 bayam and 小白菜 bak choy. Carrots were expensive then, far and few between and broccoli was virtually unheard of until I was much older. Despite being one of her favorites, my  mum avoided cooking 空心菜 kangkong as it was deemed too “cooling” for our young constitutions, much like how she would enjoy braised chicken feet in 凤爪面 Fung Zao Meen on her own but sternly forbade us from eating itas it is believed that children who ate chicken feet would develop jerky and wobbly limbs, resulting in ugly handwriting! But I’m glad that years later, I’d inherited her love for local fanfare which we enjoyed together, kangkong and braised chicken feet amongst other things.

Cangkok Manis is a vegetable which appeared infrequently in our meals.It usually manifests as an egg drop soup, with minced pork balls and ikan bilis, finished off with an off-flame swirling of a beaten egg. Truth be told, I didn’t really enjoy it when I was a boy, despite being told how dark green vegetables are beneficial to us. Its taste cannot be more different from what its name depicts, leaving a slightly bitter aftertaste in the mouth. I much preferred the version with bayam! So with much discouragement and negative feedback from us, the appearance of this soup from our dining table grew infrequent and disappeared altogether as we grew older. Now that my mother is no longer with us, how I wish I could taste her version of this soup again…

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Apparently Stir-fry Cangkok Manis with Egg is the local version of how this dish is prepared in Sarawak. And this turned out to be the most popular dish which many folks prepared for this month’s Malaysian Food Fest! So here am I to join in the fun! Kelly used MSG-free chicken powder for her version while Wendy adapted her recipe with the use of chopped dried shrimp. I’m gonna use a readily available ingredient, homemade ikan bilis powder. We have it at home all the time as I always “stock up” by preparing it periodically. It is almost effortless to prepare and yet adds so much flavour to dishes, soups and even porridge. Moreover, being homemade, I could ensure that its totally “everything-free”, be it MSG or salt, or whatever knick knacks that are added to the commercially available bouillon cubes. The preparation is fuss free too! I’d read that some Sarawakians also incorporate entire ikan bilis to their telur cangkok manis as well so I guess my version adds a slight twist to the more traditional one, and is good for those who find whole dried anchovies jarring.
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I also add 枸杞子 goji berries not only for color contrast to make the dish more aesthetically pleasing, but more importantly for the much-desired nutritional value of the berries, which are supposedly good for our eyes. Incidentally, I was told by my mother that cangkok manis has similar effects too! This is also one of her favorite ingredients, adding it to many pork rib based soups whenever possible!
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Telur Cangkok Manis (serves 2-3)


1 large bunch of cangkok manis (aka sayur manis, mani chye or mani cai)

3 eggs

2 cloves garlic

1 pinch of salt

3 tbsp cooking oil

2 tsp powdered ikan bilis (see below)

1 tbsp of dried goji berries (optional)

warm water
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For powdered ikan bilis, simply give ikan bilis a quick rinse and drain thoroughly. spread the ikan bilis evenly over a baking sheet and bake at 180C for 15-20 min or until nicely brown and crisp. use a spatula to give the ikan bilis a quick toss while still in the oven. For the last 5 min, leave the oven door slightly ajar for the steam to escape. This would help the ikan bilis crisp up more easily. Once the desired color and texture has been achieved, leave to cool sufficiently before blitzing with a food processor to a fine powder. A huge batch can be prepared each time (I prepare 500-800g each time) and stored in an air-tight container in the fridge.
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Strip the cangkok manis leaves from the branches and soak in water with a pinch of salt for 10 min. Drain and set aside.

Finely mince garlic and set aside.

Rinse dried goji berries with tap water and soak them in a bowl with some warm water for 5 min to reconstitute, if using.

Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk coarsely to break up the yolks. Do not whisk into omelette texture.

Heat up wok until smoking. Add cooking oil followed by minced garlic.

Stir-fry until fragrant and add cangkok manis leaves, salt and ikan bilis powder. Toss quickly with spatula until leaves soften considerably.

Push the leaves to one side of the wok and pour beaten eggs and gently stir to achieve scramble eggs-like texture.

Add in goji berries together with soaking liquids.

Give all the ingredients a quick toss and allow the liquids to reduce slightly.

Plate and serve immediately.

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This is a very quick and easy dish to prepare with very few ingredients to handle and barely a few minutes of cooking time. Putting the slightly bitter aftertaste aside, I must concur with my mother on its nutritional values.
Apart from Telur Cangkok Manis, tonight’s dinner also included some 家常菜 which we frequently prepare at home.
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Teochew-styled Braised Duck 潮式卤水鸭
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So this was what we had for dinner. What did you have for yours?
I am submitting this dish to Malaysian Food Fest, Sarawak Month hosted by Sharon of Feats of Feasts


12 responses

  1. Using Ikan Bilis powder is pretty clever! Although this is one ingredient that doesn’t appear in my pantry because my other half hates it. So Manicai is pretty easy to find in Singapore then?

    September 26, 2012 at 12:27 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      it depends on season actually… so happens that there were some at a local supermarket over the weekend 🙂

      September 26, 2012 at 12:29 am

      • Ooh ok! But it should be available all year round in tropical countries? Alternatively, you could plant the stalks in your garden and get unlimited supply

        September 26, 2012 at 12:31 am

      • Alan (travellingfoodies)

        I think its not a very popular vegetable over here… probably because not a lot of people know how to cook it, i.e. soaking in salt and squeezing out the juices. I wish I could grow some in my garden… but I need a garden to start with! LOL

        September 26, 2012 at 12:39 am

  2. Wow what a feast.

    September 26, 2012 at 8:16 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      haha just a simple homely fanfare la!

      September 26, 2012 at 11:55 am

  3. Not too sure whether u have tried this before – my family fancy Cangkok Manis and Egg soup. =)

    September 26, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      Oh yeah, and egg drop soup with cangkok manis and minced pork was how my mum used to cook this vegetable too. 🙂

      September 26, 2012 at 4:44 pm

  4. This all looks great!

    September 26, 2012 at 9:18 pm

  5. that’s a spread for 3 mouths :p
    Who’ll be eating the bishop’s nose? I saw it pointing up.

    September 27, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      er…I didnt eat it leh. it was already gone when I reached home. either eaten by my dad or thrown away…you like arp see fatt ah? LOL

      September 27, 2012 at 11:23 pm

  6. Pingback: MFF (Malaysian Food Fest) Round-Up for Sarawak Month (Sept 2012) | Feats of Feasts

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