Daun Kaduk

The daun kaduk is endemic to the tropical regions. It grows, uncultivated, usually by the fence beside drains and small plots of open land in urban areas. In the suburbs and rural area it grows everywhere. It thrives well under a little shade and plenty of moisture. Its scientific name is piper sarmentosum, and is of the pepper family which includes pepper used for cooking and the Indian betel leaf. Among others, it is known as betel leaf in English and sua lau hiok (wild betel leaf) in Chinese.

Daun kaduk soup

This versatile vine grows plentiful, is neglected and overlooked most of the time. However, those who know treasure it as a vital ingredient in their kitchen recipes. The daun kaduk has a unique pungent flavour which makes it irreplaceable. Mum used to pluck the younger leaves to make soup. She would stir fry dried prawns with garlic, then add water, daun kaduk and beat an egg into the soup. It was a simple recipe but one which I would long for every now and then. Other more elaborate recipes where the daun kaduk is an important component are the perut ikan, nasi ulam and otak otak. These are all Nyonya recipes.

The perut ikan is a curry of shredded leaves of kaduk, cekur, kafir lime, tumeric and kesum being its main ingredients and cooked with salted fish stomach. Literally translated, perut ikan means fish stomach, hence its name. I used to like this spicy and sourish fare. It is appetising and I could eat two servings of rice in one meal with just the perut ikan. Lately, my stomach does not agree too much with sour food and I have to cut down eating on them. At the same time, since Mum passed away and this recipe entails a lot of work in shopping for the ingredients, some of which are difficult to obtain, and the shredding of the leaves, I have not had a decent taste of good perut ikan for a long time.

Nasi ulam

When Wuan came last week, she brought two bagfuls of daun kaduk that she plucked from her garden. We decided to make nasi ulam with it. We asked our neighbour Mr. Tan who is adept at Nyonya cooking to be the chef for the day. Nasi ulam is a rice salad. The same type of leaves used for perut ikan are shredded and stirred in and mixed with the cooked rice and eaten raw. Salted fish, dried prawns, sambal, tumeric and kerisik are added to complete the recipe. It was simply delicious.

I am lucky that I have Wuan and neighbours who enjoy the same type of food as I. Whenever I miss Mum’s food, I would just tell them and voila! Although it will never taste quite as scrumptious as when Mum’s cooked it, it does appease my craving somewhat.

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Slave to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. End-stage renal disease since 2017. Principal Facilitator at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. Former columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

7 thoughts on “Daun Kaduk”

  1. i like all the dishes you mentioned here, esp. otak-otak. yes i’m into sour and spicy fare. like the ‘kiam chai boey’ which usually comes with chicken rice, i enjoy it if it is spicy.

    you mentioned the daun kaduk is taken raw when made as nasi ulam? what about peruk ikan? i remember once after i took perut ikan, the ‘leaves’ can’t seemed to be digested because after i was in the toilet doing my ‘big business’, i notice i purge out all the leaves!

  2. Lucia,
    Most of the ingredients in nasi ulam are eaten raw which is good for cleansing your digestive tract. I like “chai boey” too but unfortunately I have to cut down on eating preserved food and that includes salted vegetables.

  3. I have not actually tried daun kadok soup but your picture looks good. The leaves taste great with otak-otak. The Thai steamed version of otak-otak(called hor mok) is especially fantastic.

  4. If you have the daun kaduk growing wild in your garden, it will cost you an egg and a few spoonful of dried prawns for making approximately three bowls of this pungent soup. I do not think you can get this soup anywhere. It is cheap and it is delicious. Besides, it is good for clearing wind in your tummy. I have not tried the hor mok. Must try one day. Thanks for suggesting.

  5. I made Hor Mok Talay yesterday for Mother’s Day asd my mother, 81 y/o loves it very much. I pureed some fish in the curry mousse and use scallops, shrimps and more fish chunks. I steamed it in the traditional banana leaf cups.

  6. mary-anne,
    As much as I want a taste of hor mok talay, I have to pass because all that seafood will overwhelm my filtration system.

  7. i have a fond memory of daun kaduk also…
    my mum used to pick handful of them in our backyard for an exotic raw fish kerabu…

    raw fish (usually soft bone tamban) is combined with finely sliced kaduk and mixed in
    sambal of ground fresh chillies, santan, turmeric, tamarind juice, onions, grounded browned rice…

    simply divine..

    by the way have u come across daun sekentut?

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