How do you distinguish between Bangladeshis and Burmese

Burmese cuisine - a culinary journey through Myanmar

Burmese cuisine - a culinary journey through Myanmar

Eating becomes an experience in a foreign country. Usually I google my fingers sore full of anticipation and try the “Nepalese-Italian” restaurant around the corner as a little foretaste. In the case Myanmar is that different. There is no Burmese restaurant around the corner from us and so we are completely surprised. Burmese food culture is heavily influenced by its neighbors India, Bangladesh, China and Thailand, with most of the dishes actually being Chinese.

"They can deep-fry, right ?!"

In addition to restaurants, there are numerous food stalls lining the streets. Countless hawkers come along on train or boat trips. I have to grin, because the sentence keeps coming up: "Can you deep-fry it, no ?!". I hear him for the first time when we are gulping down a fried banana. The best I've ever eaten. Another fried specialty is samosa, which I am completely addicted to. These are dumplings filled with vegetables. 10 pieces are available for 500 kyat. Other fried delicacies are pancakes (which are more reminiscent of lard biscuits), shrimp biscuits or flatbreads with chickpeas and coriander.

Like in the land of milk and honey

In the streets there are also fondue stalls - let's call them - fondue stands. Meat is held in hot fat on small wooden sticks and then consumed. Sounds delicious. It certainly is. But our pampered western eyes shrink back at the sight of the "original shape" of the small meat skewers. There are pig snouts, tongues and much more on which the eye gets caught like in a bad accident.

On the beaches of Myanmar, traders come along the beach with fish skewers or fresh coconuts. Somehow it's a bit like in a land of milk and honey.

Mohinga - soup always works

The national dish of Myanmar is mohinga. It is a strongly seasoned fish soup (which, by the way, does not taste like fish in any way) with rice noodles and various spicy delicacies. The soup is already eaten by the Burmese in the morning at a nearby market or in a roadside food stall for breakfast, but it is also a popular snack for the rest of the day and an integral part of all food stalls. The soup is usually available for 500 kyat - also to take away. The noodles are taken heartily and immediately fly into a plastic bag. Add the spices, pour the broth over it, put the knots in: done! Soup to go.

Do you want to try them out yourself at home? No problem.

Ingredients for the fish

300gSea wolf (optionally trout)
1 stemLemongrass
½ tspturmeric
500mlwater

Ingredients for the onion paste

1 largeOnion (diced small)
3Garlic cloves
1 cmfresh ginger
3 wholedried chilies, soaked in hot water
1 teaspoonShrimp paste (available in Asian stores)
½ tsppaprika
½ tspturmeric
6 tbspPeanut oil

Ingredients for the soup

1.5 lwater
12Shallots
75 gtoasted rice flour
3 tbspFish sauce
1 teaspoonblack pepper
500 gRice or me noodles (cooked)
3Limes (halved)
5hard-boiled eggs (peeled and quartered)
2 handfulsfresh coriander
2 handfulsFried onions (to replace the plate-sized fritters used in Myanmar)
Extra fish sauce & chilli flakes

The preparation

Bring the fish to the boil along with the water, lemongrass and turmeric. Then simmer for 6-10 minutes until the fish is well cooked. Take the fish out of the pot. Once it has cooled sufficiently, peel off the skin, remove bones and chop the meat into small flakes. Drain the fish stock through a sieve and set aside.
Chop the onions, garlic, ginger, dried chillies and lemongrass and mix them in a mortar.
Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion paste. Simmer on medium heat for about 15-20 minutes until the paste is soft and caramelized. Now add the shrimp paste and mix well with a wooden spoon. Add the turmeric and paprika. Cook everything together for another minute (until the spices smell) and then add the fish. Then cover the pot and let the mixture cook for another 10-15 minutes.
The soup paste is now ready. If you don't want to use them all up, you can let them cool down and store them in the freezer for up to 4 weeks.

Now it's time to get to the soup itself

In a saucepan, bring the soup paste, rice flour, water and the fish broth set aside (if you are using thawed paste, just take 500 ml of water) to the boil while stirring constantly. The rice flour shouldn't clump together. Add the shallots and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Finally, refine with pepper and fish sauce as desired.

Serve the soup in small bowls with a handful of pasta. The other ingredients are enough on small plates, so everyone can season the soup as they wish.

No matter what - curry in any case

Another dish that can be found on every menu Tolike curry in Myanmar is called. All dishes in which the word down occurrences contain curry. The Burmese curries are only moderately spicy. They are usually prepared in the morning and sold throughout the day. Cooking for a long time causes a layer of oil to form on the curry, which effectively protects the dish from contamination throughout the day.

The curries themselves are very simple: a beef curry is made of beef. If you are hoping for a variety of vegetables, you are wrong or should order vegetables directly.
What you absolutely have to try should be on the menu: garlic or cashew curry (please let your smooch partner eat it too).

Are you blown away? Below is a recipe for Pork curry. You can just as easily use any other type of meat.

ingredients

900gPork (cut into small cubes)
2 Tea spoonsturmeric
1 tbspFish sauce
1 tbsplight soy sauce
3-4Garlic cloves
1 tbspchopped fresh ginger
¼ cupRapeseed oil
1Onions (diced)
2 tbspPaprika spice
Coriander for garnish

preparation

In a bowl, mix the pork, turmeric, fish sauce, soy sauce, garlic and ginger together well so that the meat is properly marinated.
Sauté the onions in a pan over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes until translucent. They can also turn a little brown. Add the paprika seasoning and mix together so that all the onions are seasoned evenly.
Now add the pickled meat and mix well. Cover and simmer on medium heat for about 45 minutes, until the meat is tender. Keep an eye on the temperature. The meat shouldn't burn.

Season to taste at the end and add salt if necessary. Serve garnished with coriander. Jasmine rice tastes best as a side dish.

Without meat? No problem, then just the’tha’lu (killing free of life)

Vegetarians are by no means lost in Myanmar either. Most dishes are available as a vegetarian version with tofu. However, it can happen that the basic substance of the sauce is based on fish or meat broth.

The country has a great variety of vegetables. One of my highlights is watercress. Cooked in broth, I could eat tons of it. Many places have fried cashews as a snack, another addiction I've developed.

The coast of Myanmar is a Mecca for pescetarians. There is endless seafood here. From huge fish, which you can easily share in groups of four, to lobster, everything a fish lover's heart desires can be served here.

Le-Pet Thouk for raw food lovers

Even raw food fans get their money's worth by ordering delicious seaweed or tea leaf seeds. The latter, called the Tea Leaf Salad or Le-Pet Thouk in Burmese, is an excellent culinary delight that usually costs no more than 1,000 kyat in restaurants. It is a salad made from fermented green tea leaves. There are many different ways to prepare it. Traditionally, the leaves are briefly boiled, then stuffed into bamboo sticks and buried in the ground for six months. Less strongly fermented teas are soaked in steam, kneaded with the hands and finally squeezed out. The consistency is similar to spinach. The leaves are seasoned with ingredients such as dried shrimp, garlic, ginger and oil. You can often add spices and nuts yourself.

As you can already tell, this salad is an art in itself. If you have enough patience, be sure to give it a try. But it will take a few days.

ingredients

1 cupdried, loose green tea leaves
1 cupvery finely chopped kale or white cabbage
½ cupCoriander (chopped)
½ cupSpring onions (cut into small rings)
1 tbspGarlic paste
2 tbspfinely chopped ginger
2green chopped chillies
Juice of a lime
1 pinchsalt
3 tbsppeanut oil
1 headGarlic (all cloves finely chopped)
2 tbsplightly toasted sesame seeds
3 tbsproasted peanuts
3 tbsproasted soybeans
3 tbsproasted pumpkin seeds
½ cupthinly sliced ​​tomato
2 tbspdried shrimp (if necessary soaked in water for 10 minutes and drained)
1 teaspoonFish sauce
1Sliced ​​lime

preparation

Phase 1: The fermentation of the tea leaves
Pour 4 cups of hot water over the tea leaves. Mix well and soak until the leaves have unfolded and become soft (approx. 10 minutes). Drain the leaves and remove hard leaves or stems. Squeeze out all of the liquid using a sieve. Now put the leaves back into lukewarm water and squeeze them tightly with your hands. Now pour off the liquid again (but this time collect it and then set it aside) and squeeze out the leaves. Repeat the procedure a third time and finally add the old water that has been collected. Let the tea steep in the water for at least an hour, but better overnight. The longer the tea steeps, the less sour and bitter it tastes. Finally, pour off the water one last time and squeeze all the liquid out of the leaves.

Now mix the tea with the cabbage, coriander, spring onions, ginger, garlic paste, salt and the juice of the lime in a bowl. The chillies are added for an extra kick. Cover the mass and place the bowl in a dark, cool place for 2 days. After the 2 days you can put the salad in the fridge. He's done now.

Before serving, add the little things. To do this, heat a large pan over medium heat. First the sesame seeds are added to the pan and roasted for 3-4 minutes. You should shake the pan from time to time so that the seeds don't burn. Then remove the seeds from the pan and place them on a plate to cool.

Now heat the peanut oil vigorously and add the chopped garlic. Reduce the heat and fry the garlic over medium heat until it turns gold (about 5 minutes). Fish the garlic out of the oil and set aside. The oil is used as a dressing at the end.

The salad can now be mixed together or served in all individual ingredients. In any case, the tea leaves should be mixed with the garlic oil. Add a few dashes of fish sauce and the juice of a freshly squeezed lime. Season the salad one last time and serve with the crispy nuts around it.

Rice, rice, baby!

As in every Asian country, in Myanmar Rice first on the menu. Two variants are very popular here, and they are easy to find on hand. Once sweet, once savory.

Khetan Kyitauk - sticky rice in roasted bamboo

The name may vary in different states, but it is always sticky rice roasted in bamboo. Khetan Kyitauk is also one of the oldest Burmese specialties. Even in ancient times, rice was roasted this way, even before people used clay, copper or iron pots. If you roast the rice straight, without coconut milk and sugar, it will last longer than 3-4 days.

Bamboo sticky rice is particularly popular in rural areas. Here people roast vast quantities of rice to sell in the surrounding villages or to travelers on the train or on the roadside. During our train journey we see how Khetan Kyitauk is sold through the window into the compartment when you stop. A very committed salesperson even accompanies us on our journey. He praises his sticky rice loudly and with a charming laugh. He boldly hits the bamboo roll on the back of a seat and peels the cane like a banana. He makes us all taste a little. A marketing genius, the young man, because ultimately a few people still buy one role or another from him.

It'll come at some point. That craving for something sweet. In warm countries you will look in vain for chocolate. To be honest, it doesn't even taste good. Fruit is much healthier anyway. But in "difficult" cases, fruit simply doesn't help. It should stick, you want to smack your lips. In Myanmar are everywhere on the streets Kauknyintok, a delicacy wrapped in banana leaves. Don't be frightened when you bite into it: the banana turns red when cooked.

The ingredients and the preparation are not rocket science. So: just give it a try at home.

ingredients

1.5 cupsSticky rice (uncooked)
1 canCoconut milk
1 cancoconut cream
1 cupDesiccated coconut
2 Tea spoonssugar
½ tspsalt
15Banana leaves (aluminum foil can also be used as an alternative, but this will distort the taste)
4-8ripe bananas
2 Tea spoonsSesame seeds

preparation

Wash the sticky rice and let it steep in the water overnight. The next day, put half of the desiccated coconut aside for the time being.
Dissolve the sugar and half of the salt in the coconut milk. Drain the rice well, add the coconut milk mixture and set aside.
Cut the banana leaves into squares. If they are very thin, you can take them twice. If they are too rigid, you only need to heat the leaves a little and they will be more pliable.
Peel and slice the bananas.
Now it's time to tie the package. To do this, first place 2 teaspoons of rice on the banana leaf. Add 1 teaspoon of coconut cream and 2-3 pieces of banana. Cover the whole thing with another 2 teaspoons of rice. Now wrap the mass in the banana leaf tightly into a rectangle. If the packets do not hold properly, you can secure them with thread or individual torn fibers from the remaining leaves. Now steam the rice packets in a bamboo steamer for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, lightly toast the remaining salt with the sesame seeds in a pan.

Finally, to serve, open the packages (careful, hot!) And sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds and desiccated coconut.

How sweet ... the drinks

With Burmese drinks it can happen that you grimace because of the sweetness. As for cold drinks, there are the typical world-famous soft drinks. Local ones are also offered in some cases. There are tons of fresh juices and shakes (avocado shake - yummy!).

If there was a national drink to name it would be green tea. Most of the time, Chinese green tea is served free of charge in restaurants. Often it is already on the table in thermos flasks and is drunk from tea cups. You drink green tea straight. It is not infrequently served with fresh tea leaves that swim in the warm water (like our fresh mint tea).

With coffee and other types of tea there is no trace of “pure”. Sweet tea and coffee are usually served as instant powder. Sugar and milk powder are mixed in here and the drink is bursting with sweetness. Freshly brewed black coffee is rarely available. If it does, it can also come with sweetened condensed milk. I have to admit, however, that black tea with sweetened condensed milk tastes really delicious, as a snack for in between.

A distinction is made between the following preparation options for tea:

  • pon maen - not sweet, not bitter
  • cho pot - rather bitter
  • pot kya - very bitter
  • faen cho - sweet and bitter
  • kyauk pa daung - heavily sweetened
    Sometimes the tea is refined with a pinch of salt.

It's also in for a drink in the evening Myanmar taken care of, whereby foreign spirits are often only available in full bottles. Locally produced whiskey and rum are available. The most popular beers are Myanmar and Mandalay beers. Wines are also grown in some regions of Myanmar.

You see, there is no need to worry about starvation or thirst when you go after Myanmar travels. Certainly there are rumors that the food is not that good and absolutely no comparison to neighboring Thailand, but the country still has an infinite number of specialties to offer.