Botanical Family : Gnetaceae
Thai name : Pee sae
Malaysian name : Daun Melinjo
Indonesian name : Daun Melinjo
A native of Southeast Asia, the melinjo tree is found wild in the forests and is also cultivated in some areas. The leaves are treated as a herb and a vegetable, although their use is very localized. There dose not appear to be a common English name for this tree, known as melinjo in both Malaysia and Indonesia. One botanist, however, refers to it as Spinach Joint Fir, certainly a name no English-speaking Asian will have ever heard of.
Thai cooks use the young shoots and inflorescences either raw or cooked, and add the young leaves to mixed vegetable soup. Although the tree can be found in Malaysia, very few local cooks seem to make use of it and one has to go to Indonesia to find it readily in the markets.
Sprays of young leaves and immature nuts with a fleshy green to red coating are an essential ingredient in the West Javanese sour vegetable dish, Sayur Asam. The mature nuts are dried and pounded to make a very popular emping or dee-fried wafer.