Even without traveling, food can teach us about different parts of the world. That’s something I love most about reading about food, and of course, eating food. My parents went to Burma last year (see photo above) and loved the scenery, the history, and the food. I didn’t get to go to Burma, but I got this cookbook, and love reading through the recipes, history and seeing the pictures of the people there and their food.
My mom always raves about the long-bean salad with roasted peanuts recipe. What makes this dish is the fried shallots, and shallot oil that remains from the frying. I made a big batch and have since topped practically every salad with fried shallots. Salads will never be the same!
The book, and Burmese cooking in general, calls for peanut oil quite often. I read in the book that the middle part of Burma, Mandalay and Bagan, provide ideal climates for growing peanuts. If you’re allergic to peanuts, you can substitute sesame oil. I will say, the shallots fry beautifully in the peanut oil!
The process is semi-lengthy and requires patience and a careful eye, but the smells are amazing, and the result is worth the wait! Go ahead and have a glass of wine while you’re frying.
Once they’re fried and cooled completely, you can put the fried shallots in a glass jar and store in your pantry, or any cool and dry spot. I’d recommend doing this ahead of time for this recipe.
This is a full meal we’re talking about here — a lovely grain of wild rice will be the bed for the minced chicken with galangal and tomato.
These are the ingredients for the chicken dish. I used organic boneless and skinless chicken thighs, which have more flavor than a breast. The root you see behind the shallots is galangal, which I’d never before heard of until reading this book. Galangal is also called Siamese ginger, it is more earthy than ginger, but a smaller amount of ginger can be substituted if you can’t find galangal at your grocery store.
The dish itself is very simple and requires sautéing the shallots and galangal in peanut oil, then adding the tomatoes, chopped or ground chicken and spices.
Recipes in this book call for a lot of things you may not just have in your kitchen, like fish sauce! It adds a great depth of salty flavor.
While the chicken sauce is coming together, steam your green beans and assemble the dressing for this delectable salad! It’s simple, just fresh lime juice, fish sauce, leftover shallot oil and salt. Top with chopped roasted peanuts and the yummy, yummy fried shallots!
Top with fresh cilantro/coriander and serve all together. The flavors mix beautifully! The dish is better the second day for lunch once the flavors have really developed. Enjoy!
Recipes from Burma: Rivers of Flavor:
- 1 cup peanut oil
- 2 cups thinly sliced shallots (I used about 3 large shallots)
- Add oil to a large heavy skillet and place over medium-high heat.
- Add a shallot to the oil and as the oil heats, watch the shallot rise and sizzle. Once it’s done that, add all the shallots. Lower heat to medium.
- Stir the shallots gently and frequently, adjusting the heat if they start to burn.
- After about 10 minutes, they will gain color. Stir for another 3 to 5 minutes until they are golden brown.
- Place shallots on a plate lined with paper towels, draining the oil. As they air dry, they will crisp up.
- Once the shallots are completely cooled, transfer them to a clean, dry, glass jar.
- Reserve remaining shallot oil in a glass jar.
*If serving with rice, cook at the beginning, according to package directions.
minced chicken with galangal and tomato
- 1 pound boneless chicken or ground chicken
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 cup minced shallots
- 1 tablespoon minced galangal
- 2 cups chopped ripe tomatoes or canned crushed tomatoes (I used canned)
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 2 teaspoons shallot oil (from above) plus 1/2 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne
- 1/4 cup chopped coriander for garnish
- If using boneless chicken, slice it, then chop it until it is minced. Set aside.
- Use a wide heavy pot over medium heat and add the oil. Add the turmeric and stir, then add shallots and stir again, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the galangal and cook for another couple minutes. Then add tomatoes and stir to blend. Cook down for at least one minute.
- Add the chicken and cook, stirring to break up lumps. Once the chicken has cooked, add the fish sauce and stir. Add the salt, then shallot oil and stir. Cook together for at least 5 more minutes, giving the flavors time to blend.
long-bean salad with roasted peanuts
- 3/4 pound long beans, or green beans
- 1/4 cup chopped, roasted peanuts
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons shallot oil (from the fried shallots)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons fried shallots
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and toss in the beans. Cook until tender, but still firm, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Cut the beans into 1 1/2 – 2 inch pieces, removing ends.
- To make the dressing, stir the lime juice, fish sauce, and shallot oil together in a measuring cup. Pour over the beans.
- Add the peanuts and salt and stir again. Then, top with shallots.
Assemble! I served this dish with organic wild rice on the bottom, the chicken on top, and green beans on the side. Garnish with lots of fresh coriander, if you like.