October 5, 2011

Salting the Sarawak Mustard Green the Indigenous Way

This post is dedicated to my three daughters....May you always have good food on your table and harmony in your kitchen....God's blessings be upon you always!!



In Sarawak the most popular green must be the Iban's Ensabi (related to the Chinese mustard green or yiu chai). The mustard-like taste is similar to the wasabi taste.

Stir fried as a normal green it is very tasty. I like mine in a nice oil less soup with chilli and dried fish as a soup base. But it is valued most as the preserved salted vegetables similar to the Chinese preserved mustard green (kiam chai).

In Sarawak the organic ensabi is usually available during the planting season ie.August through October. Lately Chinese farmers have started to grow commercial ensabi for the multi racial society of the urban centres.

Making of kasam ensabi (kiam chai) is often a common household activity in any Iban home.

First the greens must be washed and then dried. On a rainy or hazy day it is better to wilt the greens in the kitchen like what I have done - on wooden chair backs!! Some of my friends hang them up on their clothes lines on a sunday afternoon for half an hour or so. Just getting rid of the moisture is adequate. After a day or two the vegetables are ready for rubbing in the salt. A good measure of rough natural sea salt is best. Do not use the fine salt as the taste may turn out to be different and a tad unnatural.....

Wilting the vegetables on the back of the chair (because it rained!!)
Once wilted the vegetables must be squeezed and rubbed on a chapan (Iban  rattan tray) like this
At this point of time salt can be rubbed into the vegetables and you can see that more moisture is being  pressed and squeezed out.
Use about 5 tablespoons of coarse sea salt for 5-6 bunches of ensabi. You can also give your fingers a taste after your have processed the vegetables. It should not be over or under salted.
After pressing and squeezing the vegetables are placed into a nice container (I use Tupperware) and wait for the cooked rice water to cool and to be poured into the container.

After one hour or two hours place about 5 tablespoons of cooled cooked rice in the jar and mix well.

The salted vegetables will ferment in the rice water and the cooked rice . It takes about three or four days for the vegetables to be fully fermented. They become yellowish green (jungle green or Khaki green) and the juices are sourish. The cooked rice would also have been very disintegrated.

Take out about a small bowl of the salted vegetables. Chop into small pieces and stir fry with some meat. Excellent.

You can make a very good salted vegetable and tou foo soup with meat slices too ....

I bought about 6 bunches of ensabi for 5 ringgit. It is good value for money because these days salted vegetables from China are very expensive. Furthermore if you make your own you can guarrantee the quality of your own preserved vegetables.

Have fun!!

8 comments:

sintaicharles said...

Thanks for the recipe.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Charles..you are most welcome. Hope you are going to make it too..it is so simple. I shall try to use the Kuai Chai to prepare some kiam chai for myself soon...Need to give away some of this lot...

The Observer said...

please post a photo as soon as it is ready to be yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmed

Daniel Yiek said...

Like

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Observer...sure...the photos are already in the memory card. Just waiting for uploading...my lap top is too slow now...sigh...

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Daniel...any one selling kasam ensabi on e-bay yet? You can be my agent in Singapore!! Home made preservative free kiam chai!!

Ann said...

I didn't know about the cooked rice. You revealed a secret recipe technique.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann...the cooked rice is the agent which will help ferment the salted vegetables. I suppose the Iban ancestors knew a thing or two about fermmentation by trial and error...the end result is really nice..

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