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When Does An Inadvertent Mistake Become Something Highly Slurpable?

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ByFaizal Sohaimi
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When my wife, Emily, cooked that is it.

We were at Bukit Kiara Park in Taman Tun Dr. Ismail for our weekend morning walk. As we walked from our car to the park, there were the food vendors as usual on the sides of the road. She saw a piece of pumpkin at the vendor with a sign “organic produce”, and fell in love with it, the last piece. She quickly picked it up together with some “pucuk manis” (“mani cai” or sweet leaves) and planned to cook “sayur lemak” combining both in a dish.

Paid for it, left it with the vendor and we went for our walk. She got what she wanted, to cook what she had in mind. For lunch.

Tell us how you like it cooked. Can share the recipe?

Superfood With Caution – Pucuk Manis

Those who know, I guess are salivating already. This vege is a favorite of many. It’s a common backyard plant in the kampungs and those who have a bit of space to plant things. Even though the land is only “sekangkang kera” (“monkey’s crotch”, hmmm…). It’s easy to plant, to grow, and not have to care so much. But for me, we live in a condo…

Googling it, I got to know that it’s a superfood! The other superfood that we know is moringa. I love the drumstick to be cooked in thick dhal curry. Emily often plucked the moringa leaves from the tree in front of my mom’s house and put them into an omelet.

My mom used to plant these sweet leaves behind our house. She still has this on the side yard at her house now. Emily plucked them every time we went to visit my parents.

My family had this pucuk manis leaf regularly in our meals. Either cooked together with pumpkin and sweet potato, in either a plain clear soup or with coconut milk. Pumpkin is often used instead of sweet potato.

However, please note that the pucuk manis has to be cooked. Juicing is a health hazard as reported in this article.

Its self-defence mechanism (an enzyme, a chemical) is activated and can become deadly. So, cook it but DON’T JUICE IT! (DANG! I already was thinking about this as Emily just bought a “cold-press juicer” two days ago). Cases of people with serious respiratory problems had been reported in Taiwan and Japan.

However, the same article also reported, “It is rich in papaverine, a drug used in the West to treat both high blood pressure and impotence in men”. Just make sure you COOK IT!

Allow me to make you salivate further with the photos… Can you taste and feel how good this is?

Image | mamafami.blogspot.com

Local Small Organic Produce Vendors

Emily used to buy vegetables at the supermarket or wet market, preferring the wet market. We live not far from one. She frequented the Taman Tun wet market regularly. She often found those she called “kampung vegies” i.e. those seldom or hardly sold at supermarkets. Things like “paku rawan” were never sold at supermarkets but she found it at the Taman Tun wet market.

Today though, she saw the pumpkin at the roadside vendor. She prefers to buy from small-time vendors and help them earn a decent living. Bless her heart. She also looked at what else she can buy or do for them, to help.

By the way, would you haggle with these vendors? Yes, I understand that their price is higher than those at the supermarkets. Do you know “the economies of scale”? Anyway, do you haggle for those things at the supermarket you felt are priced quite high? Read this article to understand why the farmers’ prices are “higher”.

It’s a dish that she cooked so many times. Often delicious!

Today though, she did not know or realize that organically produced food disintegrates faster. As usual, she was boiling the pumpkin, adding the spices, giving it some time to cook and soften. Then she would add the pucuk manis. By the time she was about to add the leaves, she realized that the pumpkin pieces were already disintegrating. Worse, now she needed to give some time for the pucuk manis to cook.

She reduced the heat, and let the dish simmer. And see what would happen…..

To her surprise, when the leaves were sufficiently cooked, the pumpkin did not disintegrate completely. Some still remained in their chunks. The broth though, rather than become a light coconut milk-based light broth, now became a pumpkin soup!

She was not happy about that! She kept saying that. Probably thinking that I might not be pleased as this was my favorite.

Revelation

For me though, as I was finishing the pumpkin pieces, and the leaves, I came to a shocking revelation that this was a super yummy pumpkin soup!

I did like what I always did, slurped it all!

I have to say that this was something that she cooked, better than my mom’s!

A Twist

For those who are masters in the “art of spoosh spoosh” – that is you don’t know what are the exact measurements, or if you can repeat the exact recipe and taste – you can take that masak lemak dish, or soup, just now, and do some modification.

Pumpkin and coconut milk are to be used. But, unlike the vegetable soup dish, don’t put any garlic, onion, lemongrass, or lime leaf that will make the dish savory. Replace them with “gula melaka” or “gula melaka” (special brown sugar”), a pinch of salt (only a pinch, just to give a hint of saltiness), and maybe some small tapioca balls (sagu).

You would have a dessert dish that would make “you ignore your mother-in-law who was walking behind you!” (So goes a Malay saying – “mak mentua lalu belakang pun tak nampak!”)

Anyway, after I finished slurping the remaining of the makeshift “pumpkin – pucuk manis soup”, and munching the remaining tiny bits of the “pekasam” (small freshwater fish fermented in crushed dry-fried rice), I duly did my duty – I am the dishwasher.

Lesson???

Just like the 3M “Post-It Notes” many surprising and pleasing discoveries are often the results of mistakes. Mistakes in experiments and mistakes in doing regular things. These mistakes can easily be turned into “innovations”, of course providing that something did not explode or injure anyone. One needs to be able to “realize”. So, do not be afraid of exploring, experimenting, and trying things (says a mad scientist). Exercise some healthy cautions though…

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