Cangkuk Manis (Mani Chai) with Oyster Mushrooms

After seeing so many common greens over the internet, I think it’s time to introduce you all to a local vegetable. I have to say, this veggie is not a common as I like it to be over here too. I know it’s extremely popular over in Sarawak. For those who do not know Sarawak, it’s the largest state of Malaysia located in Borneo. I’ve been there once and will return there again next year, God willing to visit some dear friends. Also, my BFF who gifted me her pestle and mortar. 😉 To say that I miss her and family is an understatement.

Anyway, I digress! Back to mani chai (as known to the Chinese) or cangkuk manis (as known to the Malays and natives), I’ve always had it in pan mee here or hand-pulled noodle soup. I’ve also seen it cooked with pumpkin before. But when we visited Sarawak, for the 1st time, I encountered it cooked very simply with egg and I fell in love.

For some background, Wikipedia tells me that it’s scientific name is called sauropus androgynus while in English, it is known as katuk, star gooseberry, or sweet leaf. Mani chai and cangkuk manis basically means sweet vegetable so it’s not that far off there. I found that more information about this veggie under the name Katuk. Very interesting!

In it’s raw state, it looks very much like an ordinary leafy tree with thin green wood stalks and small-ish leaves.

image credit: Wikipedia

I had to strip the leaves from off it’s woody stem before giving the leaves a good thorough wash. These things can get pretty dusty. I bought about 20-30 stalks and ended up with a little over 5 cups. But mind you, it’s not dissimilar to spinach in that it cooks down really really quickly. With 5 cups of leaves, you may be left with only 1 cup of actual cooked veggie. It’s hilarious. I know.

So I decided to make a simple mushroom egg white version by using:

Egg Whites, Garlic, Chicken Bouillon cube and some Oyster Mushrooms (not pictured because I forgot to take them out.. 🙂

As most Asian vegetable dishes go, it starts with sautéed garlic.

Next, the nicely cleaned and washed greens go in with a pinch of salt.

I crumble in a cube of chicken bouillon cube for extra flavour in the broth but really, you can use stock or omit. If you choose to omit, soy sauce, oyster sauce or fish sauce would give it a good flavour dimension too.

Water is added and I let it simmer for about 5 minutes before dumping in my grey oyster mushrooms. I then let it simmer for a further 10 minutes until the leaves are nice and tender before pouring in my egg whites in a thin steady stream. You can use a whole egg but I had some leftover whites from my French apple tart recipe so I didn’t want it to go to waste. Cook smart people. 😛

After a bit more simmering, we have a nice sweet soupy cangkuk manis dish that is both light and goes very well with rice. 

At least that’s how the Sarawakians have it, I’m guessing. I’m going back there for more in 2013! 😉

To my dear BFF and dear friends at Sarawak,

“I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee: But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.” (3 John 13-14)

Cangkuk Manis with Oyster Mushrooms
serves 2

5 cups Cangkuk Manis Leaves, stripped from stems and cleaned thoroughly
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 cube Chicken Bouillon
1 Egg, beaten
1 cup Oyster Mushrooms
1 1/2 cup water, more for a soupier dish

Salt, to taste

  1. Heat about 2 tbsp oil and fry minced garlic for a brief moment over medium high heat.
  2. Add in cangkuk manis leaves and a pinch of salt. Crumble in bouillon cube.
  3. Pour water in and cover. Bring to a boil and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Scatter oyster mushroom into broth and leave to simmer for an additional 10 minutes, or until leaves are tender.
  5. Pour beaten egg in in a steady small stream.
  6. Adjust seasoning and serve!


  1. Jacqueline Ngindang says:

    I also like cangkuk manis as well. It is looks nice. Hope some day I will able to follow this recipe when I back to my rumah panjang. <3
    – Veggie new lover-


    • Hey Jacqueline! So happy to see you here! I think you are an expert in cooking this dish, even more so than I, since you’re from Sarawak anyway. 🙂 If you have a better recipe for making this or other dishes, let me know ok? Then I can share on my site so that others know how interesting Sarawak cuisine can be. Take care & God bless, sister.

      • Jacqueline Ngindang says:

        Hi…i just got an opportunity to open this blog. If i know any other recipe I will tell you 🙂 I am not so expert. Just a new beginner. I think I would like to share with you the recipe that I had known since I am 15. About 5 years ago. I will share with you on how to make Cendol. At my campus, there are few of my friends do like it and they think want to open a stall and sold it here.Also I know how to make the nasi kerabu (blue in color of rice) but still in testing period. Maybe we can share fews of the Sarawakian Traditional foods. Penyaram maybe. 😀

        • Sure, Jacqueline. We’ll keep in touch and try to make that happen. Or perhaps when we meet, God willing, in Kuching. Will let you know when we’re coming over!

  2. Jacqueline Ngindang says:

    okay sis Jayne. Can’t wait to meet you here. Hope can meet you by this year. DV. 🙂


  1. […] come up with a different way of preparation. I mean, I have been cooking almost all my veggies with mushrooms lately. I need to get cracking and get creative. Then again, I love my mushrooms. […]

  2. […] next veggie dish is what I’ve written about before. Mani Chai, Cangkuk Manis or Katuk. Pick your favourite name. I was briefly reunited with my love. […]

Tell me more!