Thursday, November 12, 2015

My kind of tea-time : Pickled tea-leaf salad (laphet thote)



I grew up living with 22 people in Yangon. Yes, living with twenty-freaking-two people under the same roof definitely made me feel like I was at a thanksgiving dinner, inundated with laughs, chatter, screams and shouts, every day. Who needs privacy and alone time when you are adapted to go through the everyday routine of fighting with your brother for an extra-inch on a shared wooden bed? Thus, I attribute my loud and sometimes obnoxious personality and tendency to cut off people’s conversation to my family members. At the same time, the ability of these 22 people to love me unapologetically not only sways me to do the same to those around me but also turns me into a 5’ 7” Asian guy with 6’-blonde-white-guy self-esteem.

laphet thote recipe





One of my absolute favorite chunks of the day while growing up in Yangon was from 7pm to 9pm, also the noisiest 2 hours of the day. The dinner was just finished, and all of us would sit in the main living room, patiently waiting for a one-a-day-episode of foreign drama series (You see, I was even in the training for self-discipline to actually wait for pleasure. Kids these days with Netflix will never understand this). My eldest aunt would make a big pile of pickled tealeaves salad or laphet thote (sometimes, with more rice) for an after-dinner snack. The salad, despite eaten after a meal, is extremely bold – it has sharp sourness from pickling and lime, spiciness from pounded chili, pungent saltiness from fish sauce, simultaneous mellow and crunchy note from fried garlic pieces. It felt like there is a San Francisco pride parade running around in my mouth. Despite just having eaten, all of us would congregate around the salad bowl, and devour in a flash. Waiting in the line? No way, get out of here.

Here in the United States, sometimes I have this almost-pregnancy craving for pickled tea leaves. But, because it is really hard to get a hold of fresh as well as pickled tea leaves, I scoured through cook books with an extreme optimism to make pickled tea leaves from dried counter parts. The recipe from Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Duguid comes as a good compromise. As I unveiled the bowl after 4-day of pickling process, the instantaneous whip of assertive tealeaves hit my nostrils. I smiled silently, knowing that I was on the right track to the memory lane. I excused myself from people to savor nostalgia, but I quickly realize that I really don’t miss my nightly-fight with my brother for an inch of bed space.

laphet thote recipe

laphet thote recipe


Ingredients
  • 1 cup of dried green tea leaves (I used this brand)
  • 1 cup of finely chopped cabbage
  • 1 cup of finely chopped cilantro and scallions
  • 2 tablespoons of pounded ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of pounded garlic
  • ½ tablespoon of pounded Thai chili (optional)
  • Zest of 2 lime
  • Juice of 1 ½ lime


Pickling step
  • I first soaked the dried green tea leaves in hot water for ten minutes until the leaves became fully bloomed.
  • I then discarded the liquid, added lukewarm water until I generously covered all the tealeaves, and pressed on the leaves thoroughly in an attempt to squeeze out bitter juices. I repeated this step two more times.
  • I discarded the liquid again. This time, I added cold water, and let the leaves soak for at least 2 hours (or overnight).
  • I drained out excess liquid thoroughly by squeezing the leaves one handful at a time. Then, I finely chopped the leaves. You are encouraged to use food processor until the leaves turn into almost jade-green paste. But, I broke my food processor, so I went manual.
  • I used a mortar and pestle to pound my ginger and garlic cloves, until they turn into a chunky paste.
  • Then, I mixed the drained tealeaves with chopped cabbage, cilantro, scallions, along with pounded ginger and garlic. Also, I have to say I added pounded Thai chili to satisfy my spicy palate. Of course, this step is optional.
  • Finally, I sprinkled over lime zest and poured in lime juice, followed by a generous mixing.
  • I placed the mixture in a big metal bowl and double-wrap with kitchen plastic to calm my paranoia, and allowed it to pickle for four days.
  • After waiting eagerly for 4 days, I finished off the pickling by adding 1 cup of vegetable oil. This step, although admittedly excessive, is necessary to prevent the tealeaves from molding and more importantly, to add the indulgent smooth texture to the leaves.


How to assemble

Ingredients
  • About ¾ cup of pickled tea
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons of roasted peanuts
  • 1 tablespoons of fried garlic (store-bought or home-made)
  • 1 tablespoon of fried yellow split peas or crunchy chickpeas
  • ½ cup of thin tomato wedges
  • 2 tablespoon of dried shrimp soaked in water for 10 minutes and drained (optional)
  • 1 cup of shredded green cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice (adjust to your own taste)
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of fish sauce
  • Drizzle of garlic oil


Directions
  • Mix everything together thoroughly.
  • Drizzle with garlic oil in the end to finish.


32 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post. It's a shame I didn't try fermented tea leaf salad when I visited Myanmar. Didn't even really try mohinga. We were lost in translation. I am determined to try your recipes soon. Keep them coming! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Christine. Wow, you visited Myanmar. Yea I really wish you could have tried these two dishes back then. Let me know how the recipes turn out :D

      Delete
  2. Wow, 22 people! I love your stories and writing, especially this line:
    It felt like there is a San Francisco pride parade running around in my mouth.

    I'm hoping to taste your tea salad one day! I am not adventurous enough to try this myself. Some things should remain a mystery! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Adair, I am really glad you get my reference of the boldness of the tea leaf salad to the rawness of a San Francisco pride parade :D I will bring this to one of the FBLA meetings.

      Delete
    2. So sorry to miss out! I am out of town. Raincheck? :)

      Delete
  3. I absolutely loved this post! Your are talented story teller and really pull me in with your story and make me more intersted in the recipe. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Karina, you are very kind, and I am really glad that you enjoy reading the post. :D

      Delete
  4. It looks so good now I want to make this. I like to try new recipes all the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Helene, thank you for visiting. Let me know how the recipe turns out :D

      Delete
  5. This sounds amazing, but also quite complex. I might see if I can convince my brother to make it. He's always experimenting in the kitchen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Brita, the recipe sounds hard, but it is just a lot of mixing, and waiting. Haha, yea I hope I can help you convince your brother to make it :D

      Delete
  6. Thanks again for tagging me on instagram to see this awesome recipe! Of course, as a huge tea lover, cooking with tea in anyway is my absolute favourite. I can't wait to give this salad a try. I can only imagine all the flavours that tea adds to the dish. Mmm!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lu Ann, Thank you so much for dropping by. Yes, I thought you would enjoy this recipe. I really want to know how it turns out for you. So, please let me know.

      Delete
  7. This looks so delicious. I know what to make this weekend :-) Awesome post Soe!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for checking the post out, Ann. Let me know how it turns out :D

      Delete
  8. Making this after finals! Can I use any type of tea leaves? I have a bunch from my last trip to China that I haven't gotten around to drinking but I'm not entirely sure what it is...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Kathie, hope everything is going well in NC. You should use green tea leaves because they are milder. I used Numi brand. I would stay away from flavored tea and black teas. Come visit me in Cali again :D

      Delete
  9. We spent three weeks in Myanmar a few weeks back, and loved everything about it, including the food! Laphet Thoke was the first dish I ordered upon arrival in Mandalay, and it was so delicious that I chose it often during our ramble -- there's a picture of one version, I think, on my Instagram. Yum.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am really glad that you enjoy Myanmar :D Yes, Lapahet thoke is very much underrated gem.

      Delete
  10. 22 people?! Woah that's crazy! But seriously, that salad sounds delicious. I've never tried anything like it and yet I am craving it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha yea it surely is crazy, but fun. The salad is very delicious. If you happen to try and make it, I look forward to hearing your experience

      Delete
  11. Hi Ko So Thein, thank you for sharing the recipe! I always wanted to make my own fermanted tea leaves.

    Do you have to leave the tea leaves in the fridge during the 3 days process of fermentation or can you just leave it outside?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Ko So Thein, thank you for sharing the recipe! I always wanted to make my own fermanted tea leaves.

    Do you have to leave the tea leaves in the fridge during the 3 days process of fermentation or can you just leave it outside?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ma Khin Sint,
      I leave mine outside in room temperature.Let me know how it turns out for you

      Delete
  13. Nice to meet you at LA Food Bloggers. This salad was crazy good!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was nice meeting you as well Karen :D I am glad you liked the salad.

      Delete
  14. Soe, this was the most complex, unique and fantabulous salad I ever tasted! After I left the Food Bloggers L.A. get-together, I wanted MORE, MORE, MORE!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay..I am really glad that you liked the salad.

      Delete
  15. Thanks so much for posting this recipe. I've been searching all of the local Asian markets to no avail. The closest I've gotten is once a Burmese restaurant gave in after 15 minutes of begging and sold me a pint of their pickled tea leaves. Have you ever made mont lin mayar? That was my favorite snack food when I was traveling around Myanmar

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let me know how you like this recipe :D And, yes, mote lin mayar is actually quite easy to make if you have a mold. I should do a recipe on it soon :D

      Delete