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Melinjo leaves are medium to large in size, averaging 3-10 centimeters in diameter and 8-20 centimeters in length, and are broad to oblong in shape. The flat, smooth, and shiny leaves are bronze when young and mature to a deep, glossy green. Growing in an opposite pattern, Melinjo leaves have prominent veining branching across the surface and are thin and crisp with slender, green stems. Melinjo leaves have a bitter taste which mellows to a mild, sweet, and nutty flavor when cooked and has a soft, delicate texture.
Melinjo leaves are available year-round.
Melinjo leaves, botanically classified as Gnetum gnemon, are found on a small tree that can grow up to twenty meters in height and belongs to the Gnetaceae family. Also known as Gnemon tree, Daeking tree, Joint-Fir spinach, Bago, Belinjo, Padi Oats, Bigo, Kuliat, and Meang, Melinjo leaves thrive in tropical climates and are foraged in the wild for use as a vegetable, potherb, and medicinal plant. Most commonly found in the street markets in Asia, Melinjo leaves are often considered a rarity in the rest of the world and are largely unknown.
Melinjo leaves contain protein, fiber, copper, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, vitamin A, antioxidants, zinc, manganese, and magnesium.
Melinjo leaves are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as steaming, boiling, and stir-frying. Having a slightly slimy texture similar to spinach, Melinjo leaves are commonly used in Malaysian and Indonesian cooking and are mixed in spicy soups, in vegetable “lodeh” curries, and in seafood dishes cooked with coconut milk. They are also commonly found in stir-fry dishes with egg. Melinjo leaves pair well with jackfruit, carrots, green beans, bean sprouts, coconut, galangal, bay leaves, tamarind, garlic, onion, dried fish, prawns, and shrimp paste. They will keep up to two days when stored in a loose bag in the refrigerator.
Melinjo leaves are used in the rural communities of Aceh in Indonesia and in the Karbis tribe Northeastern India for celebrations and important life events. Kuah pliek is a traditional vegetable curry that is often made with young Melinjo leaves and is used for keureudja and khanduri in the Aceh culture. In the Karbi tribe in Northeastern India, the Karbis refer to themselves as the “children of Hanthu and Mehek,” Hanthu meaning Melinjo, and Mehek referring to another wild plant. The Karbis use Melinjo leaves in religious rituals, where the leaves are cooked with the meat of a sacrificial animal. In addition to culinary uses, the sap of the Melinjo leaves is also used for eye infections.
Melinjo leaves are native to Asia and Southeast Asia, specifically Indonesia, India, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines. They are also found in New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Fiji. The exact origins of Melinjo are unknown, but the leaves have been used in Asia for centuries and were classified by Carlus Linnaeus in 1767. Today Melinjo leaves are available at local markets in Asia, Southeast Asia, and select Pacific Ocean Islands.
Recipes that include Melinjo Leaves. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Cook Pad||Melinjo Leaves with Coconut Milk|
|Dentist vs. Chef||Stir Fry Papaya Blosson & Skipjack Tuna|
|Steemit||Melinjo Leaf Crackers|
|Red Wine, Fine Food||Melinjo Leaf And Shrimp In Coconut Milk|
|Karin's Recipe||Padi Oats & Long Beans Stew|