Eats

Burmese Days: Recipes for Action

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As friends around the world are activating and educating in hopes of a transparent and free election, we wanted to offer some inspiration. The food of a culture is often the best window to it’s people, Burmese food is as diverse as the people and politics of the country. From Karen State, to Mandalay, each region offers a different taste and different flare. The flavorful, comforting tastes of Burmese cuisine will surely inspire your appetite, and hopefully your energy to learn more about this amazing and complicated place.

As friends around the world are activating and educating in hopes of a transparent and free election, we wanted to offer some inspiration. The food of a culture is often the best window to it’s people, Burmese food is as diverse as the people and politics of the country. From Karen State, to Mandalay, each region offers a different taste and different flare. The flavorful, comforting tastes of Burmese cuisine will surely inspire your appetite, and hopefully your energy to learn more about this amazing and complicated place.

Mohingar

Picture from Hsa*ba website

prepare the fish

300g catfish (or use whole trout)
1 lemon grass stalk, bruised
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
500ml water

to make the onion paste

1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1cm fresh ginger
2 lemon grass stalks, white part only
3 whole dried chillies, soaked in hot water
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
6 tablespoons peanut oil

to make the soup

1.5 litres water
100g young banana stem, sliced
(alternatively use 12 small shallots, peeled)
75g ground rice powder, roasted
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

eat with

500g fine rice noodles or
wheat noodles, cooked
3 limes, halved
5 hard-boiled eggs, peeled & quartered
2 handfuls of fresh coriander, chopped
gourd or onion crispy fritters (page 21)
extra fish sauce & chilli flakes

method

Put the fish in a large pan, add the water, lemon grass and turmeric. Bring to the boil and simmer for 6-10 minutes until the fish is just cooked. Remove the fish from the pan and when cool enough to handle, peel the skin and flake the flesh, discarding any bones. Drain the fish stock through a sieve and reserve for the soup.

Pound the onion, garlic, ginger, dried chillies and lemon grass into a paste in a pestle and mortar, otherwise just chop everything as finely as you can.

Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion paste. Cook over moderate heat for 15-20 minutes until the paste is soft and caramelised. Add the shrimp paste, mash with a wooden spoon until incorporated, then mix in the turmeric and paprika. Cook for a further minute until the spices are fragrant before adding the flaked fish. Pop the lid on and cook for 10-15 minutes, allowing all the flavours from the onion paste to infuse into the fish.

The soup paste is done. If you are making this in advance, cool the mixture completely and pop in the freezer. It will keep for up to 1 month.

To make the soup: put the soup paste (completely defrosted if using from frozen), rice powder, water and the reserved fish stock (or 500ml of water if not using fish stock) in a large pan. Bring to a boil while stirring continuously to make sure the rice powder doesn’t clump. Add the shallots or banana stem and simmer for 20-30 minutes until they are tender. Add the fish sauce and taste for seasoning. Finally add lots of black pepper before serving.

To serve, put a handful of noodles in a bowl and ladle over the soup. Let everyone add the garnishes as they wish. It should taste spicy, salty and tangy from the limes.

(Thank you to the Hsa*ba Blog for this recipe http://www.hsaba.com)

Ohn-No Khao Swè – Burmese Coconut Chicken Noodle

Serves 4

  • 3 medium white onions
  • 1/2 inch chunk of ginger, skinned
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 shallots or 1 small red onion
  • 2 spring onions
  • 250g egg or wheat noodles (standard packet)
  • 4 deboned chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp gram flour
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • Small handful of dried flat rice noodles aka rice sticks
  • 3 tbsp chilli flakes
  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 1 lime, sliced into wedges
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • Fish sauce
  • Vegetable oil

Dice the onions finely. Add a little oil to a saucepan, heat and then sweat the diced onions in the hot oil. Take spoonful of the onions and add to the ginger, garlic and spring onions and mince the lot in a blender till it forms a rough paste.

Slice the chicken thighs into small strips. Mix chilli flakes, 1 tbsp paprika and a little salt in a heatproof cup.

Whisk the gram flour with 100 ml cold water and then add to the pan of sweated onions. Add four dashes of fish sauce and the stock cube. Bring to a simmer and then top up with 500 ml cold water. Bring the broth back to a simmer.

Heat a 2 inch depth of vegetable oil in a small frying-pan/wok. When it’s hot (you’ll feel a wave of heat coming off the top), ladle a few spoonfuls of the oil over the chilli flake mix so it sizzles and becomes fragrant. Set the toasted chilli oil to one side.

Next, snap the dried rice noodles straight into the hot oil so they puff up, and then use a slotted spoon to fish out the now-crispy rice noodles onto some kitchen towel. Turn off the heat and pour away most of the oil from the frying-pan, reserving about a tbsp.

Boil the egg/wheat noodles and drain. Soft-boil the eggs and slice into wedges. Slice shallots/red onion finely and soak in some cold water.

Reheat the frying-pan/wok which has the tbsp of oil, and add the minced garlic, ginger, onion, spring onion. Add the chicken and 1 tbsp paprika, and stir-fry the lot till browned.

Add the coconut milk and the last tbsp of paprika to the saucepan of broth. Lob in the stir-fried chicken and bring to a simmer.

Place the egg/wheat noodles in bowl, then ladle the chicken broth over. Top with the sliced shallots, the eggs and the crispy rice noodle garnish.

Add another dash of fish sauce, and serve with the toasted chilli for sprinkling and a fat wedge of lime for squeezing.

Thanks to the MeeMaLee Blog for this recipe http://www.meemalee.com)

Tamarind Pork 

ingredients

50g tamarind pulp
250ml hot water
2 large onions, quartered
4 garlic cloves, crushed
3 whole dried chillies, soaked in hot water
120ml peanut oil
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon shrimp paste
700g pork, cut into 3cm chunks

method

Prepare the tamarind first. Add the hot water to the tamarind and soak for a few minutes. Use a fork to mash up the pulp and strain through a sieve to remove any fibres or stones.

Using a pestle and mortar, pound the onions, garlic and dried chillies until they resemble a rough paste. Heat the oil in a saucepan and cook the onion paste for 15-20 minutes. When it has caramelised and turned reddish brown, add the turmeric and shrimp paste. Use a wooden spoon to break up the shrimp paste and stir through the mixture.

Add the pork and cook over a moderate heat until any liquid that has come out of the pork has evaporated. Keep stirring to avoid burning the onions. Pour in the tamarind liquid and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 45-60 minutes.

Check at regular intervals to make sure the gravy has not dried out. Add a little more water if necessary. Check the pork, it should fall apart easily. Season with a little salt if you wish.

serves: 4

(Thanks to Hsaba.com for these amazing recipes!)

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