February 25, 2011

Edible Reeds or Kumpai from the Peat Marshes

Travelling along roads in Sarawak and especially in the peat swamp areas one can see these beautiful heads of tall reeds. Whenever one drives to Brunei along the road to the Asean Bridge one can see the graceful long reeds standing tall and swaying in the wind. They do add much beauty to the vast green (some times brown and burnt) countryside scenery.

They are marsh reeds called KUMPAI by the Ibans.

In days of poverty and when food is scarce the indigenous people can still depend on these wild reeds for food supply. When any one is down to his last sen he can have a good lunch made from the soft peeled reeds. But it is hard work and also mind you - you might meet a snake or two in the swamp.

These tall reeds are a pretty sight. And when the wind blows you just have to look at them and feel good ......We can be tossed by the wind too and breathe well ....if we are harsh and hard and go against nature we will just break our backs without realising it......These reeds seem to tell us not to go against nature!!

they always look very nice along the road side......

The young stems can be cut off easily and peeled. Stir fry them with some pounded ikan bilis and chilies and you can get a nice vegetable dish - indeed free food is available if you know where to collect them.....Unfortunately this reed is too bushy and unruly to be planted as house plants.

 But who knows in the future?


Ann said...

taste like bamboo shoot?

My Ah Kung said in Sarawak you never starve or freeze to death.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sarawakiana,

I believe it is a species of the Phragmites.

Ah Ngao said...

once a while,it's sold at Satok weekend market in Kuching.i recognized them by the stem.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

This reed tastes like any shoot who is found free in the jungle. Yes your Ah Kung was so right!!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Anonymous...You may be right! I have to continue with my research on this kumpai again....My in laws have different views but they are really very knowledgeable about the local wild plants.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao...It is good that some people are already selling it in the market. Over here it is a tedious job to peel off the skin. That is why it is only for home cooking.

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