Sweet leaf is consumed mainly in South East Asia and South Asia. It is suitable for tropical weather and easy to grow and harvest. It just needs to be propagated from leftover stems after harvesting the leaves. Maintenance is low and just requires watering.
The stems are too tough to be eaten so only the leaves are harvested. The stem are either thrown or used to propagate more sweet leaf. It taste are sweet and is slightly chewy.
There have been cases of lung damage resulting in lung transplant and death in a group of people who drank raw juiced sweet leaf for weight loss for the duration of 10 weeks.1 The toxicity is likely inactivated by heat.2 Don’t eat it raw and consume it in moderation.
It can be stir fried or used in soups e.g. stir fried sweet leaf with egg or ban mian. Other dishes are masak lemak (cooked in coconut milk) or sweet leaf egg drop soup.
It is one of my favourite vegetables and was the first few stir fried vegetable dishes I learnt as a child. When I was in college, I used to cook this during weekends. It is different from my usual catered food during weekdays and I would consider it my comfort food.
The trick for this stir fried sweet leaf with egg dish is to pinch and bruise the leaves so that it is not so rough.
Stir Fried Sweet Leaf with Eggs
Heat up 1 tbsp oil and brown 1 tbsp garlic. Stir in sweet leaf for a few minutes. Add 1 mixed egg and stir. Add salt to taste.
1. Lai, R.S., Chiang, A.A., Wu, M.T., Wang, J.S., Lai, N.S., Lu, J.Y., Ger, L.P., Roggli, V. (1996). Outbreak of bronchiolitis obliterans associated with consumption of Sauropus androgynus in Taiwan. Lancet, 13;348(9020):83-5. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(96)00450-3.