Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is a Southeastern Asian country that is found beside Thailand, Laos, China, Bangladesh, The Bay of Bengal, and Andaman Sea. The country is well known for following the Buddhism religion and its vast collection of pagodas (pictured below), there are over a whopping 10,000 throughout the country. Lesser known about Myanmar is the 130 ethnic groups that reside here. The government has sorted these groups into 8 ‘races’, Bamar making up 70% of the population. With the numerous ethnic groups there are over 60 languages spoken.
Burmese cuisine is as diverse as its ethnic groups going back to the longstanding agricultural practices and trades with neighboring countries. Traditionally when in Myanmar you would eat sitting on a bamboo mat and food would be served on a low table known as a daunglan. Staples of a Burmese kitchen include rice and rice noodles, fish and soy sauces, tomato, a large variety of warming spices, fresh and dried seafood, meats (beef is less likely), ginger, and an array of fresh vegetables to name a few. A phrase used to describe the food of Myanmar is “chin ngan sat” which means sour, salty, and spicy.
The dish we made for Myanmar is called shan noodles, a meal of noodles as the name implies with chicken or pork with a tomato-based sauce. It originated in Shan state which is located in the eastern part of the country and is often served at breakfast time. Sometimes you will find this meal served over broth.
I enjoyed the simplicity of the recipe and the ingredients. We always have rice noodles in our pantry since Asian cuisine is common in our weekly rotation. I prepared my dish with more of a chopped approach were as the original recipe recommended finer preparation (i.e. the peanuts and onions). This was easily made during the week.
This dish is all about balance- sweet to spicy and textures. The peanuts brought a great salty crunch. The ginger gave the dish a nice kick and we found the tomato sauce very unique. I would be curious how this would have been with a chicken broth, let us know in the comments if you have tried it in soup form. We rated our Myanmar meal 8.5/10.
- 6 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 lb chicken or pork chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 10 oz dried shan noodles thicker rice noodles
- 2 onions chopped
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- 1 1 inch piece of ginger peeled and finely chopped
- 8 tomatoes chopped
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp chili powder optional but recommended
- 8 tbsp peanuts chopped
- 2 scallions chopped for garnish
- Place the dried noodles in a bowl of cold water, bring a large pot of water to a boil and place the noodles in. Turn off the heat.
- Heat the vegetable oil up in a wok or large fry pan. Fry the garlic, ginger, and onions for 6-8 minutes on medium/low heat.
- Add chili powder and mix well. Then add chicken/pork, tomatoes, and tomato paste stirring to combine. Then add the soy sauce and sugar increasing heat to medium. Allow to cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The tomatoes should be crushed and juices released.
- Drain the noodles and serve a "handful" sized amount for each person. Top with chicken/pork mixture and garnish generously with peanuts and scallions. Enjoy!