Pak Wan Leaves (Pak Whan Pa)

I saw this bunches of packed Pak Wan (cuttings of about 6″-12″ long stalks) sold by one of the small Asian grocery shops in Belgian Coast. Also referred to as tropical asparagus, the tender but crunchy stems of this plant and the thin leaves are often sliced to be served in stir-fry dishes, fresh salads, and soups, such as Pak Wan soup.

After doing my research, it seems that Pak Wan and Cekur Manis [a.k.a Sweet Leaf Bush (Sauropus Androgynus… not Stevia Rebaudiana though which also coined as Sweet Leaf by some health food companies in their natural sweetener range)] are the same species! In Thailand it’s called Pak Wan and in Malaysia it’s called Sayur Cekur Manis. What I saw back then in my hometown was ready trimmed tender and shorter shoots of this Cekur Manis plant compared to the Thai version which I had to nip off with fingers the tender parts…
Pak Wan
Pak Wan aka Cekur Manis

Pak Wan Leaves
Close up view of the lighter green shade leaves… looked like Cekur Manis isn’t it?

I think it’s hardly noticable that Pak Wan and Cekur Manis are the same plant because of the color- Cekur Manis leaves are dark green, cooked in coconut milk with sweet potatoes, as soup, stir fry with eggs, dried prawns, etc…

In Thailand, at Ban Mor District, Saraburi, there’s an event celebrating this plant in March called Pak Whan Pa Rai San Phit Festival each year! That’s cool to honor a humble plant normally found growing wild in the North and North East of Thailand. There are some recipes online that I will try later on though… 🙂

What I did was added the leaves at the last stage of cooking to conserve the nutrients like this Fried Rice I cooked with the left over rice yesterday.
Pak Wan in my Fried Rice

Few websites mentioning this nutricious wild plant that produces edible leaves and stalks that are rich in proteins and minerals. In Thailand, it’s gathered in the wild but lately it had been farm cultivated (as in Ban Mor District) to avoid depletion of its natural source… I wished more farmers or herbalist in the world will follow such steps to encourage consumption and farming of traditional plants especially the plants that has been over exploited, and come to the brink of extinction. I missed eating Pucuk Paku… 😦 it’s so difficult to find it nowadays… 😥

Updates:
I finally found the Cekur Manis at a local fresh market for RM 1 (0.23 Euro) a bundle..is enough for couple of different dishes for 2 people! Here’s some picts before it ended in my tummy..hahahhaha!

Cekur Manis
Cekur Manis-mature leaves & shoots

Cekur Manis shoots
Close-up of the young shoot of mature Cekur Manis plant

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4 Responses

  1. thank you for the info about pak wan, tried it out for the first time today. Delicious nutty and fresh !!! The other name,cekur manis,is a great help too. I found it in chinatown, the hague,the netherlands,where i live.
    Thanks again, robb

  2. You’re welcome Robb56. I hope you can share it in your blog later on.

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