Sunday, September 12, 2010


Burma (or Myanmar) is located in southern Asia between China, India, Laos, and Thailand. The country's current military government has promoted the name Myanmar since 1989, but the US government still uses the name Burma. Burmese cuisine is heavily influenced by China, India, and Thailand - not surprising, given its location. This means that fish sauce, clear noodle soups, and curries are all common elements. However, curries do not use curry powder, relying instead on turmeric and chili powder for flavor, as well as onions, garlic, and ginger.

I made the curry and the cucumbers while I was making the Bissau-Guinean stew, since both needed to simmer for hours and my schedule's a little hectic this week. The cucumbers were meant to be served cold, and I couldn't imagine that curry wouldn't reheat well. I thought the coolest part of the recipe was processing the onions, garlic, and ginger into a paste to get the flavor without the chunks. Of course, the friend hanging out with me pointed out that onions are *really* strong when they're processed into a paste; his eyes were watering from across the room! I made the coconut rice when I was actually ready to eat the meal (accidentally burned it, so I had to scrape off the unburned parts and just eat them - oops), and all in all, I was impressed. The rice was very mild, but the flavor went well with the curry. The meat was relatively tender and the curry was delicious; flavorful without being spicy. The cucumbers were...a little weird. But generally enjoyable.

Cucumber Pickle

2 large green cucumbers
1/2 cup malt vinegar
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp peanut oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
8 cloves garlic, sliced (I used minced and crushed)
1 medium onion, finely sliced
2 tbsp sesame seeds

Peel the cucumbers, halve lengthways, and remove the seeds. Cut into strips 5cm long, about the width of a finger. Bring vinegar, water, and salt to a boil, then drop in cucumbers and boil until just transparent. Drain immediately and let cool. Heat both oils together and fry onion until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook until pale golden. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan until they are golden brown. Cool everything. Toss together and serve.


Plus this
equals this!

Coconut Rice

1/2 cup long grain rice (I used basmati)
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp salt

Put the rice, coconut milk, and salt into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to very low, stir well. Cover the pot and leave alone to cook for 20 minutes. Mix in any remaining milk and cook five more minutes ONLY IF NECESSARY. Serve immediately.

Oops. That shouldn't be brown around the edges!

Fried Pork Curry

1 medium onion, roughly chopped
8 cloves crushed garlic
2 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground turmeric
1.5 lbs boneless pork, cut into 3 cm cubes (I used some kind of rib roast, I think)
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 cup water or stock (I used water)
salt to taste
Fresh coriander for garnish (optional - I forgot)

Use a food processor to process the onion, garlic, and ginger into a paste. Heat the oils in a large pan; add the paste and cook it over medium heat for about 15 minutes until it becomes a golden brown color and has oil around the edges. Add the chili powder, turmeric, and pork and stir well until the pork is well coated with the mixture. Add the vinegar and water. Cover and simmer for 90 minutes until the meat is tender. Remove the lid to thicken the liquid if necessary (it wasn't for me). Serve with rice.

Before cooking the pork

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