Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tepu, tepus, tuhau

A picture post of stir fried pounded tapioca leaves on facebook made me crave for mum's version.

Mom would either twist and bruise or pound the leaves and stir fry it with wild ginger shoot called tepu in Bidayuh language. The Ibans call it 'tepus', Kelabits call it 'tubu nanung' and the Kadazan, Dusun and Murut of Sabah call it 'tuhau'.

Tepu (Etlingera Coccinea)

It is widely sold in the wet markets or pasar tamu in Sarawak and Sabah.  The outer layer of the skin /sheath protects the fragrant white shoot.  It smells like coriander or bunga kantan and breaks like asparagus.  Every broken shoot results in strands of fiber, much like spider web or mozzarella pulled from oven fresh pizza slices.

Bruised tapioca leaves stir fried with tepu, served with fresh chili.

My mom use tepu in her tapioca leaves dishes apart from wild eggplant or terung pipit.  I could eat rice with just stir fried tapioca leaves. Oh, never forget the hot chili, pounded or fresh.  Tepu is also used in other dishes, soups or stir fries.

This herb is also a prized condiment for Sabahans away from home.  It makes up the most famous vinegar cured 'tuhau', simply called 'tuhau'.  The shoot is chopped, mixed with chili and left to cure in vinegar or lime juice.  It makes for a perfect condiment and goes great with almost anything.  Say 'tuhau' to any Kadazan Dusun / Murut Sabahan and they'll salivate instantly.  I love it too.  Fragrant, hot and sour.  What's not to love!


  1. omg... im hungry for 'sambar tepu' now.