Euphorbiaceae, Sauropus androgynous, katuk
Katuk, Sauropus androgynus, a somewhat peculiar latin name. Common in Asia, Katuk is rarely found in the wild, occurring from India to Malaysia. A delicious hot weather green vegetable, widely considered to be one of the most prolific, nutritious and appetizing of all green-leaved vegetables. It has been proven to out yield all other edible leafy greens, and thus merits further attention.
Katuk is one of the staple vegetables in Borneo, fabled to have been a traditional accompaniment to human flesh amongst cannibals in the area. The superb and unique flavor of these leaves is most similar to peanuts, also similar to snow peas. Then tender tips, the leaves, the flowers and the young berries are all used for food. Older leaves can be eaten raw but are commonly cooked. The young leaves and tips are eaten raw in salads. When cooked all parts of the plant have a distinct agreeable odor and flavor and the leaves and stems retain their dark green color. The leaves have about 6-10% protein content. The roots and leaves are sometimes used as medicine.
According to a post on the website singaporemotherhood.com, and I quote, “heard from a Jul mommy abt a plant called katuk. Can get at wet mkts and Giant supermarket. Just boil the leaves and drink the water. Apparently, her milk supply went up so much after taking it, it can shoot across the room if squeeze her breast. This plant is apparently widely used in Indonesia & Vietnam to increase milk supply.”
Personally, I almost always eat Katuk raw, I find that both new and mature leaves have an excellent flavor.
Katuk is disease and pest resistant, tolerates most soils, grows in sun or shade, produces abundantly year round, and is easily propagated from seed or soft and/or hard cuttings. The best quality leaves and shoots are produced when grow in in partial shade with plenty of water and nutrients, especially nitrogen. Long, tender shoots can also be achieved by training larger plants to grow laterally, then watering and feeding them. The vertical growth that next emerges is ideal for raw consumption.
Due to its tall, thin stature Katuk can easilly be grown in between, or even up, most trees. When growing under a tree katuk acts almost like a vine, becoming quit long. When growin in the full sun the plant stands tall, is long lived and very wind tolerant. The plant can also be heavily harvested and managed as shrub or hedge row.
I am growing large quantities of Katuk in Casco Viejo. Does very well in virtually any location as long as it gets ample water.