Ensabi is a small variety of the green mustard which is grown in Sarawak. It is slightly more bitter than the sawi we buy in town. Today there is a longer variety of the indigenous ensabi called, Ensabi Cina, or Chinese ensabi. Its leaves are very long and the stalks much bigger.
The famous wasabi sauce comes from the horseradish rhizome, but it has an uncanny similar taste to ensabi.
Besides being eaten as a stir fried fresh vegetables, it is often salted to be kept for while, and taken out when food runs out on rainy days or when vegetables cannot be planted during a drought which happens more and more often now in Sarawak. It has not made its debut on any restaurant menu yet.
The preserved ensabi is special to many families because it is a very skilled craft. Many housewives even try to keep their procedure a well kept secret. A few competitions have also be conducted over the last 10 years to keep the skill alive.
However some housewives do find the salting of the vegetable a delight and make freshly preserved ensabi quickly within a few days.
Preserved ensabi is used as a soup enhancer, cooked with pork bones. It is used as part of steamed fish ensemble. And stir fried with minced pork, or just anchovies, it is very nice. Eaten as part of a salad, the preserved ensabi is a very welcome dish.
You can always experiment with this vegetable.
Steps in making salted ensabi:
1) cleans and wash the ensabi.
2) Dry and wilt the vegetables over night.
3) When adequately wilted, rub coarse salt into the vegetables to extract the last juices.
4) Place the vegetables in a clean glass bottle over night.
5) Add some cold cooked rice and mix again. The rice will ferment and give the ensabi a very appetising sourish taste.
6) The salted vegetables should be ready in four or five days' time. However, the longer you keep it the better.