Drying ensabi on a rattan tray.
A good glass bottle with a good seal or cap.
Kesam Ensabi Salad
The process of salting excess vegetables especially in the longhouse is a normal "housewife" thing and has been around for as long as the Ibans have been around. In this way the longhouse Iban folks in particular would always have a side dish of preserved vegetables ready when extra food is called for.
It has taken me quite sometime to gather enough courage to stride out on my own and salt the ensabi all by myself. In the past I could depend on friends and relatives to give/sell to me a small bottle once in a while. Last week I took the daunting challenge and bought about RM4 worth of ensabi (mustard green). The ensabi has a wasabi taste and is very delightful to the discerning. It is definitely a favoured vegetable amongst the Ibans (both rural and urban).
First I chose the leaves carefully and wash them . It does not matter if some of the leaves are yellowish. The important part is the leaves must be dry and wilted.
The leaves were then dried in a rattan tray as shown in the second photo until they were wilted and moisture almost all gone. (layu is the term)
When the leaves were drying or wilting in the sun I cooked some rice with a lot of water. The sticky water from the boiling rice was kept aside and cooled.
When the leaves were wilted I put them in a big jar and used a big wooden spoon to mix the rock or sea salt well into the leaves. (You add enough salt by tasting it. Do not add too much salt.) Then finally I poured in about a cup of the cooked rice water into the jar. A tablespoon of sugar would be excellent!
Some housewives have claimed that squeezing the salt and the leaves together is a good idea. But I don't do it. So it is really up to you.
Finally I allowed the vegetable to ferment in the well sealed jar for about two or three days. I would stir and mix the vegetables once a day to ensure the salting process took place.
The brownish salted vegetables would be ready for stir frying or making of soup or even making a nice salad with some local ingredients.
This salted vegetable is the same as any kiam chai you can buy in town. The best part is that you have made it yourself and the salt is controlled.
I will be doing this salting of the ensabi from time to time so that by Christmas I would have enough bottles ( I use jam bottles) to give to friends relatives and my children.
Advice : do not make too much each time. About RM4 worth of ensabi or 4 bundles each time is a good start. In this way we can prevent wastage. Buy the ensabi later in the day and you might get a bargain as the farmers would like to go home. Scout around first before you make the purcahse. Choose ones which are clean and have no mud or sand.
Wishing you sunny days for your preservation of ensabi or kesam (salted) ensabi.......cheers!