Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Yangon, Myanmar: Burmese Cooking

Our Yangon cooking class started with a tour of the outdoor market led by Mr. Ko Ko, the restaurant manager at the Ambassador’s Residence, and Ms. Htay Htay Lwin, his assistant. It quickly became a cultural tour. Mr. Ko Ko picked up a piece of bark, "This is not food. This tanaka. The women grind it into a powder and apply it to their face to protect it from sun." At a stall selling longyis, the traditional sarong-style garb worn by most adults in Myanmar, Mr. Ko Ko asked, "Do you know the proper way to wear a longyi?" Unwrapping his longyi, he explained, "The men fold it like this in the front with a twist knot. The women secure it on the side." We purchased fresh fish to make Fish Cake Salad and returned to the hotel in a 1940s mini-truck. After our lesson, which took place on the hotel’s expansive second-floor teak veranda, John and I savored the finished product while enjoying the view of the tropical garden. For more information check http://www.governorsresidence.com/.

Fishcake Salad – serves 2-4
1 lb. of minced fish fillet
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of chili flakes
1 cup of oil
Put minced fish fillet in a mortar. Add the salt, garlic, and ginger. Pound into a paste. Add turmeric and chili flakes; continue to pound until mixture is smooth. Shape the fishcake paste into pancakes and gently fry until golden brown, remove from the oil, place on paper to remove the oil. When it is cold slice the fishcakes into strips.

1 tablespoon fried onion slices
3 white cabbage leaves cut julienne-style
1 sliced tomato
1 teaspoon freshly chopped coriander leaves
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon roasted chickpea powder

Mix the sliced fishcake with the cabbage, tomato, and onions. Season to taste with the lime juice and fish sauce. Add the chickpea flour and freshly chopped coriander, mix well, and serve
NB: Chicken can be substituted for the fish

Lemongrass Juice – 1 gallon
1 pound thinly sliced lemongrass (lower part only)
1 gallon hot water
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
4 teaspoons sugar cane syrup
Crush the lemongrass slices into a smooth texture and soak in hot water. Let infuse for about eight hours. Strain, mix with freshly squeezed lime juice and sugar cane syrup, chill before serving. Decorate with a lemongrass stem and a slice of lime.
NB: This juice can be served warm with a dash of honey or turn it into a cocktail by adding a jigger of vodka.

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