Sunday, August 20, 2017

Dips, chips and pâté: Myanmar-style nibbles

For me it’s not too difficult to create a menu with entrées, main dishes and desserts. The biggest problem is creating nibbles — dips, chips, paté — in Burmese style. Tempura vegetables and tofu salad are time-consuming to make, and therefore I can’t enjoy chatting with my guests.

The recipes below are based on side dishes from Myanmar traditional meals. I brought them onto the coffee table from the dining room table, serving them as nibbles for drinks. We mostly serve Burmese food at our dinner parties, so I introduced these dishes to my Australian families and friends. They loved them, and I’ve been serving them ever since.

The first recipe, for a fish-based sauce called ngar htaung, is served with rice crackers. The second recipe was inspired by the sauce commonly served with Thai satay: I changed the traditional myay pae ngapi chet (peanut and dried shrimp sauce) into a dip to be served with white and black sticky rice. You can refrigerate the dip for up to one week.

Ngar htaung dip with rice crackers

INGREDIENTS

1 pack of rice crackers (hta min gyoe kyaw)

100-150g of carp fish (nga gyin)

2 medium onions (grilled)

6-8 cloves of garlic (grilled)

4-6 small green chilies (grilled)

teaspoon of turmeric powder

teaspoon of paprika

½ teaspoon of salt

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

2 tablespoons of lime juice (more can be added if preferred)

1 tablespoon of fish sauce

Handful of coriander (with roots)

2 heads of lemon grass

PREPARATION

Marinate the fish with 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, teaspoon of turmeric powder and ½ teaspoon of salt for at least 30 minutes.

Grill 2 medium onions, green chilies and garlic over a gas stove flame, without peeling them. When the onions are soft, remove from the fire and cool them. For the chilies and garlic, remove them after the aroma is released. Discard all the burnt skins from onions and garlic.

Washed the coriander and roots well and drain them. Finely chop the base and roots.

Heat the oil in a pan over high heat. Sauté the coriander roots and pan-fry the fish in a nonstick frying pan for 6-8 minutes or until it is cooked through. Discard the bones and skin, and save the flesh.

In a food processor, combine the grilled onions, garlic, chilies, fish, lemon grass, coriander, lime juice, fish sauce and oil. Blend until it becomes a paste. Salt for taste. Garnish with chopped coriander.

Peanut and tomato sauce

INGREDIENTS

¾ cup of roasted peanuts (crushed)

3 onions (finely chopped)

6-8 big tomatoes (boiled, peeled and chopped)

cup of oil

¼ teaspoon of chili powder

4 tablespoons of fish sauce

cups of water

Handful of chives (chopped)

PREPARATION

For this recipe I use roasted peanuts and remove the skins by rubbing them between my palms and tossing them up in flat, round plate or tray.

Heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onions. When they turn golden-brown, add the chili powder and fry for a few seconds. Add the tomatoes, peanuts and fish sauce, and fry for 2-3 minutes.

Add the water and bring it to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes while stirring frequently.

Allow the mixture to completely cool, then blend it in a food processor until it becomes smooth. Garnish with chives.