Saturday, June 23, 2012

Enjoy a global breakfast at Traders in Yangon

People who know my husband, John, and I are frequent international travelers often ask, “What about the food?” They are envisioning a plethora of strange, bizarre, and weird food items they have seen on television such as deep-fried bugs, beating frog’s heart, coconut grubs, and so on. The truth of it is that one would have to go out of their way to get most of the unique items featured in such shows. As strange as it may seem it is often easier for Americans to dine internationally than it is for foreigners to dine in America and Canada. America and Canada are a mix of nationalities so we have become used to choosing from a variety of ethnic restaurants whereas those who live in other countries have not had as much exposure to international foods.

When we are in Asia we are impressed by the variety of items on the breakfast buffets. Most hotels of any status try to provide something to whet the appetite of all nationalities. For the British guests there are always beans and grilled tomatoes. Americas can order bacon and eggs while the Japanese will enjoy miso soup with various side dishes to spice it up, the Chinese will find dim sum and congee, a rice-based porridge. Truly, visitors to America, especially Asian visitors, often have more trouble finding food they like than Americans do in Asia.

Traders Hotel, which is part of the Shangri-la family of hotels, is one of the few chain hotels represented in Myanmar and one of the finest. It is a centrally located, full-service hotel with a pool, spa, workout room, and restaurants. Their Yangon hotel breakfast buffet at Traders Café serves an incredible variety of food from around the world. There is even one section that has halal food for those of the Islamic faith.

Before selecting items for breakfast it is a good idea to take a tour of the buffet. From the Chinese section there is dim sum and noodle soup with all the fixings, plus congee – fish, chicken or plain. From the Japanese section guests could opt for miso soup, teriyaki chicken, braised pumpkin while the Myanmar section has mohinga, a fish–based soup that is the national dish of Myanmar. To please the Indian palate, and vegetarians, there may be potato curry, sambar, and for Malaysians there is char kway teow, which is a noodle dish that is the national dish of Malaysia, and one of my favorites. There will also be a variety of cheeses, fruits, vegetables, muffin, breads, yogurts, pancakes, and cereals – truly something for everyone. I complemented Chef Ting Thai Yii on his vast selection of items. I told him I miss the variety when I am in the United State because no restaurant serves such a range of global foods. He said, “If you would like I can share some recipes so you can make them at home and remember us at Traders in Yangon.” Here are Chef Ting recipes that are easy to make at home in the United States.

Indian Potato Curry
(makes four servings)
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed
½ cup cooking oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp mined ginger
½ cup diced onion
¼ cup diced tomatoes
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp curry (or to taste)
¼ tsp mustard seed
2 cups water
1 tsp minced coriander leaves

Boiled the potatoes until fully cooked. Heat the oil in pan on medium heat. Add garlic, ginger, onion and tomatoes until brown. Then add chili powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder, salt, curry, and mustard seed. Mix for a few seconds. And add potatoes and water. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Malaysian Char Kway Teow
½ cup cooking oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 ½ tsp chili paste
6 prawns, (large shrimp) peeled and deveined
½ lb squid cut into rings
½ lb chicken sausages sliced
1/3 lb fish cake, slice
½ rice noodle
2 chicken eggs
2 cups bean sprouts
2 tsp diced chives

1 tsp sweet soy sauce
1 1/3 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1 1/3 tbsp oyster sauce
¾ tsp sugar
1 tsp chicken powder
1 1/3 tbsp dark soy sauce

Make sauce and set aside. Heat the oil in the wok; add the garlic and chili paste. Stir-fry for a few seconds. Add prawns, squid, sausage and fish cake and toss constantly until they change color. Add noodles; sprinkle sauce over it. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the noodles begin to soften. Push to one side. Scramble eggs on the side. Mix and cook a few minutes more. Add bean sprouts and toss. Garnish with chives. Ready to serve.

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