Edible shoots of Sarawak(part 2) – the leafy shoots

There are quite a number of leafy shoots for sale daily at our local markets. The most popular ones are the pumpkin and cucumber shoots.

Well, these two types of shoots may look alike but they have different taste. Both of these two shoots are quite popular among the natives and the local Chinese here in Sarawak.


Pumpkin shoots stir-fried with pumpkin

Pumpkin shoot goes well with pumpkin or sweet potatoes. Both types of leaves have to be crushed and shredded or even chopped finely before cooking , just like the way we cook changkok manis.

There are two types of pumpkin shoots, the one plucked from the mature creepers and the other type is the pumpkin seedlings.


Pumpkin shoots plucked from the mature plants

Pumpkin shoots plucked from the mature plants are tougher and take longer time to cook.

Once a friend of mine tried stir-fry pumpkin shoots for the first time and she forgot to crush the leaves. She jumped to the conclusion that pumpkin shoots were not edible. So for those who are new to pumpkin shoots, please try the pumpkin seedlings first. They are really delicious.

Both pumpkin and cucumber seedlings can be cooked as vegetables.They usually come with roots.


Both pumpkin and melon-like cucumber seedlings can be cooked as vegetables. They usually come with roots.Pumpkin seedlings leaves are very soft and easily crushed. Pumpkin seedlings are obviously a better choice than the pumpkin shoots plucked from the mature plants. What we do is sow the seeds after pumpkin flesh is cooked. Harvest them before they start to climb or when they are about 30 cm tall. For those who are lack of bigger space for pumpkin plants to grow, this is a good vegetable for city gardens. They grow easily and do not need fertilizer.

This is a good vegetable for stir-fry, soft and tasty. No other ingredient is needed for pumpkin shoots, just stir-fry the shoots with a bit of salt or light soy sauce.   


 The pumpkin seedlings, easy to grow on good soil. No fertilizer is needed.

The picture below shows Timun Dayak and cucumber shoots. There are 2 types of cucumber shoots, one is from the regular cucumber plant and the other type is from a local melon-like cucumber called ‘Timun Dayak’.


Local melon-like cucumbers called ' Timun dayak'.
Local melon-like cucumbers called ‘ Timun dayak’. They turn from light green to yellow, orange to brownish red on ripening.

Both shoots look similar. Those shoots plucked from the regular cucumber plants have leaves that are bigger and they taste less sweet than the local cucumber (Timun Dayak ) shoots.   



Cucumber shoots

Cucumber shoot has a very distinct taste of sweetness. Because of this natural sweetness, it is always cooked in soup. In the picture shown here is a bowl of soup cooked with cucumber shoots and sweet corn. Crush the leaves before cooking.


Cucumber shoots soup with fresh sweet corn kernels
Cucumber shoots soup with fresh sweet corn kernels

Other shoots include bitter gourd shoots. Most people would just stir-fry or blanch them and eat in ulam, i.e, eat with sambal belacan. Please click here for ulam.

According to Dr Paul Chai in his book – Medicinal Plants of Sarawak, a tea prepared from boiling the leaves is good for high blood pressure.   



  Bitter gouard shoots

Another less common one is the letup shoot. Please click here for more information.   



  Letup shoots

There are more leafy shoots for ulam and eaten raw to be shared later in my next post.


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