Posts Tagged ‘Burmese’
The laphet tea leaves salad is probably the most popular Burmese dish outside of Myanmar. Thanks to Burma Superstar. Folks have sworn it’s the best salad ever across any cuisine! The reason I am updating my blog tonight is because I had too much of this salad this afternoon, and am now wide awake. The salad does give you a caffeine buzz!
Being in the US, it’s almost impossible to find any Burmese groceries. So sourcing pickled tea leaves is quite the challenge. I even trekked out to Daly City where there is a large Burmese community to try to find the tea leaves only to be disappointed by a small packet of prepared laphet that is both rancid and tasted foully processed. In this recipe, I am using just green tea leaves. Green tea leaves by itself is fermented, although just so slightly. The pickled version starts the same but you leave it to ferment for about a week at room temperature. I actually like the fresh unfermented version better as it tastes more like a salad! You can serve it traditionally where all the ingredients are laid out separately and guests make their own, or just toss them all together.
1/2 cup dried green tea leaves, loosely packed
2 cups cabbage, finely chopped or shredded
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes
1/2 cup rice bran oil
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dried lentils or lima beans, soaked 1 hour, drained then pat very dry
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
3 tablespoons peanuts, roasted
3 Tablespoons garlic oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 Tablespoons dried shrimp, soaked in water for 10 minutes and drained, then pounded fine
2 Serrano chilies, minced
1 lime, juice only
1 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoon fish sauce
Preparing the tea leaves
Pour 4 cups of hot water over the dried tea leaves, stir, and steep 10 minutes. Then drain, pick through the leaves, and discard any tough bits. Squeeze out any remaining liquid from the tea leaves as thoroughly as possible. Next place the tea leaves in lukewarm water and mash with your hands a little. Drain and squeeze out extra liquid. Repeat this rinse once more, then add cold water and let stand for 1 hour. Drain, squeeze thoroughly to remove excess water. Chop the leaves finely.
Mix tea leaves together with cabbage, cilantro, green onions and tomatoes. Set aside.
Preparing the crunchies
Heat oil and add garlic slices and fry till golden. Remove garlic and set aside. Next, add drained lentils, and fry till golden and crunchy.
Prepare the dressing
Mix all dressing ingredients together.
Toss the salad with the dressing and crunchies (garlic slices, lentils, peanuts and sesame seeds) and serve immediately.
This is Myanmar’s national dish! Mostly eaten at breakfast, you can have it across the entire day. There are stalls dotted all over Yangon serving mohinga! A bowl of mohinga is the ultimate Burmese comfort food. On our last night in Yangon, Hsiu-yi and I just had to venture out to the closet street stall next to our hotel to have our last bowl of mohinga and of course, Myanmar beer.
Burmese cuisine is truly a a confluence of the cuisines of India, Thai, Indochinese, Chinese and South East Asia. Because it is mostly undiscovered to the rest of the world, one may say it has influences from all these countries, but perhaps, it may be the reversed! Mohinga reminds me of Penang Assam Laksa, a bit Tom Yum like, a bit Sambar like. Noodles in a spicy fish broth.
7 cups water
1 teaspoon ngapi
2 stalks lemongrass, sliced into half lengthwise then lightly smashed
3 slices galangal
3 garlic cloves, whole, lightly smashed
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
2 lbs catfish or tilapia, deboned
6 dried chilies or 3 fresh red jalapeno
1 pieces lemongrass, finely sliced
2 rounds galangal
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 Tablespoons tamarind paste
1 tablespoon roasted ngapi
1/4 cup rice bran oil
1 cup banana stems, soaked, then drained
1 cup pearl onions
2 Tablespoons chickpea flour
2 Tablespoons rice flour
2 lbs fresh rice noodles
3 soft boiled eggs, cut into wedges
Preparing the fish
Bring water to boil. Then add ngapi, lemongrass, galangal, garlic, turmeric and salt and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the fish, bring to boil, and remove from heat. Let stand a few minutes until fish is cooked through. Remove fish, and strain broth. When fish is cooled, flake it.
Preparing the spice paste
Grind together spice paste ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Set aside.
Preparing the soup base
Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat until just hot. Stir in spice paste. Cook, stirring constantly, until the red oil separates from the spice paste about 8 to 10 minutes. Add banana stems and pearl onions. Lower the heat, slowly add fish stock and bring to a slow simmer, stirring constantly. Simmer for at 20-30 minutes. Add fish sauce to taste.
In the meantime, dry toast the chickpea flour and rice flour until golden. Add a little bit of water to the flour to make a slurry and add to the soup to thicken.
Preparing the eggs
Bring a steamer over a pot of water to boil. When the water boils, place fridge-cold eggs on the steamer and steam 7 minutes. Remove and immediately plunge into an ice bath. Peel eggs and cut eggs into wedges.
To make the crispy shallots:
Sliced shallots thinly. Heat oil with shallots in a small pot. Fry shallots till golden brown. When it starts to be golden, remove from heat as it turns black very quickly at this stage. Remove crispy shallots. Reserve oil.
Assemble the noodles:
Blanch noodles, drain. Place noodles in a bowl, then ladle in a cup of soup with some banana stems and onions. Top with some flaked fish, crispy shallots, egg wedges and cilantro. Drizzle a teaspoon of shallot oil over.
This dish has all the wonderful pungent (in a nice way) flavors of Burmese foods. The relish is made out of dried shrimp and a chili made with ngapi, and the crunchy garlic chips and crispy shallots add a textural contrast to the velvety eggplant.
Ngapi is a Burma’s answer to the the regions’ fermented fish/shrimp products. Extremely similar to Malaysian belachan or Indonesian trassi, it’s wonderfully fragrant with lots of umami.
3 Japanese eggplant
Ngapi Chili Sauce:
6 Fresno red jalapeno chilies
1 Tablespoon ngapi, more if desired
4 shallots, sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 cup oil
1/4 cup dried shrimp, soaked, grind/ pounded
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 Tablespoons Ngapi Chili Sauce
Preparing the eggsplant
Place eggplant over a gas flame to char. Turn eggplants frequently, allowing skin to shrivel and flesh to soften. Remove eggplants from flame and allow to cool. Peel skin from eggplants and discard. Trim ends and slice eggplants lengthwise into halves.
Preparing the Ngapi Chili Sauce
In a food processor, finely grind the red chilies into a paste. Mix with ngapi. Set aside.
Place sliced shallots in oil and bring to boil. Let it simmer till shallots are golden. Remove crispy shallots and set aside. Reserve oil. Next fry the garlic slices till golden. Remove garlic and set aside. Reserve oil.
Soak dried shrimp in water until soft. Drain and pound with a mortar and pestle or pulse with a food processor. Set aside.
In a small pan, heat two tablespoons of the shallot oil, then add dried shrimp and cook till fragrant. Add sugar. Turn off heat. Stir in lime juice, salt and Ngapi Chili Sauce.
Spread the relish over the eggplant, and sprinkle with the crispy shallot and garlic.
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