Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Burmese dishes that are worth getting fat for!

One of my friends has jokily reprimanded my obsession with posting my food-porn all over my social media. Of course I was flattered by his comments, mostly because I know for sure that my photography sucks. You see, I was never a person of patience. The idea of having to set up the perfect lighting, and compelling story-telling compositions sounds exciting, but I always end up eating the dish before I actually get that perfect picture. Why delay gratification when you get it instantly (of course, at the expense of good opportunities to get good photography).

But, I do confess that I have a healthy dose of narcissism and pride when it comes to cooking. If you tell me the meat I cook is too rare, I might probably get offended and sarcastically serve you some overdone meat brick next time. I have (or I thought I have) a discerning palate, a good comprehension of taste profile and lack of inhibition to try new food – a must-have trio for future food prodigies. Sadly, this time, nearly one week in Yangon with good food has blatantly shown me how delusional I have been about my cooking skills. I am sure that the food in Yangon has always been this good since I was young, but I had never actually had an opportunity to taste bad Burmese food. So, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to now take a moment to make a public service announcement that the subpar Burmese food might actually be the food I have been making. So, while still in Yangon, the land filled with delicious morsels and restaurants popping up like mushrooms at every corner, I will fully evaluate my cooking by eating out more. No, it is not an excuse to post something on my blog without a tested recipe.

So, friends, don’t take it personally when I start posting food pictures of my trip. I would never purposefully ignore your suggestions to post fewer pictures, but rather aim to expand general culinary knowledge for readers and myself. And, please keep your appreciative comments on my food photography flowing. Finally, below are a few memorable dishes that, I think, are worth getting fat for.


If pasta and curry married together and adopted a bunch of crunchy vegetables, the resulting family will look like this noodle dish. Flat wheat noodles are tossed in a chicken curry, chickpea flour, bean sprouts, shallots and cilantro. You will (at least I do) want to learn to make it once you try it.


Myanmar is located between India and China, and naturally, its culinary scene is influenced equally by the two culture. This dish, Kyay-Oh, is a good example of how a typical Chinese cooking becomes a staple Burmese dish. I have a great sense of nostalgic attachment to this dish. When I was little, I would earnestly wait for my mom from her late-night clinic shift. Sometimes, I were lucky, she would bought Kyay-Oh home for her dinner, but I usually ended up eating half of her food.

Traditional Burmese lunch table at ceremonies

This photo is taken from a monastery-donation ceremony in Pegu. Our family donated a small monastery for monks at Pegu, a city about 50 miles outside of Yangon. The locals were nice enough to throw a celebration, which usually consists of praying with monks, donating daily essentials to monks, and lastly, indulging in a heavy-feast. I am not exaggerating when I say “a heavy feast” - it is at least 15-course meal or GTFO.

Nga-pi (fermented fish paste) and assorted vegetables

A popular complementary side-dish of Burmese cuisine.


Dubbed as the national dish of Myanmar. The aromatic broth is the result of long simmering of fish, lemon grass, and spices. It is usually served over rice vermicelli and garnished with ample amount of cilantro and chopped string beans. Believe it or not, it is the most popular breakfast in Myanmar. I can eat it every day, and feel like the first time I tried.

Chicken Biryani

One of the most popular Indian dishes in Yangon. The rice is cooked with various spices, including cardamom, saffron and cinnamon. Whenever I take a bite of the chicken, the whole world stops and I only notice three things - 1) the meat is fall of the bone tender, 2) the notes caramelized onions and indian spices remind I that I am eating one divine chick that should be respected (culinarily), and 3) I should order the second, like right now.


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