Monday, March 30, 2015

Burmese Kyazan Thohk - Bean Thread Vermicelli Noodle Salad

Burmese Noodle Salad
Similar to Htamin Let Thohk (Hand-Mixed Rice Salad), this salad is made with bean thread vermicelli noodles and is also mixed by hand.

Bean Thread Vermicelli Noodles
When these noodles are soaked in hot water and allowed to cool, they soften, turn from opaque to transparent and develop a bouncy bite. On their own, the noodles are tasteless which is why, after softening, I soak them again in a mixture of sauces so that the taste of the ingredients are distributed throughout the salad.

Hand-Mixed Noodle Salad
Ingredients: (serves 2)
1 pkg. bean thread vermicelli noodles
2 cups boiling water
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. fish sauce
½ tsp. vinegar
4 Tbsp. chili-garlic oil
1 (8 oz.) cup tamarind juice
1 tsp. chili powder
salt to taste
¼ cabbage or 1 Romaine lettuce, shredded
2 eggs, boiled & chopped
4 Tbsp. chickpea flour (besan), toasted
2 Tbsp. dried shrimp powder
1/2 cup deep-fried onions
1/2 cup deep-fried garlic
2 limes, cut in eighths

  1. Boil 2 cups of water, remove from heat, add noodles and soak until cool. 
  2. Drain noodles and mix with soy sauce, fish sauce, vinegar, chili-garlic oil and tamarind juice and set aside to allow flavours to permeate.
  3. Combine all ingredients (except eggs) and mix thoroughly by hand.
  4. Garnish with chopped eggs and serve.

Chicken Salad Burritos

Chicken Salad Burritos
There was a package of rotisserie chicken breast slices from the deli in the fridge and it was close to lunch time, so the quickest thing to do was make chicken salad sandwiches. 

Diced Ingredients
Any kind of cooked chicken works well in a chicken salad, but the tastiest probably would be to poach a fresh boneless chicken breast and chop that up. To the chicken I added half a Fuji apple, a red shallot, half a beefsteak tomato, a red chili, mayonnaise and salt. Everything was diced and placed at the ready.

Combine in a Bowl
The ingredients were all dumped into a mixing bowl and thoroughly mixed together.

Transfer to a Serving Dish
The salad was transferred to a serving dish and two tortillas were toasted in the toaster oven.

Fill the Tortillas
Two tablespoons of the chicken salad were placed down the center of each tortilla. The larger whole wheat tortilla is Hubby's preference, while I like a white flour tortilla.

Roll & Slice
The tortillas were rolled, burrito style, sliced down the middle and served. This was a light lunch that came together in a jiffy.

Ingredients (all diced except tortillas):
2 tortillas, toasted
1 (9 oz.) package sliced deli chicken
1/2 beefsteak tomato
1/2 Fuji apple
1 Thai red chili pepper
1 red shallot, peeled
4 Tbsp. Hellman's Real Mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
  2. Toast 2 tortillas and fill with 2 Tbsp. each chicken salad.
  3. Roll up like a burrito, slice each tortilla in half and serve.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Singapore Vermicelli Noodles

Singapore Vermicelli Noodles
This is one of my favourite dishes to order in a Chinese restaurant. It's usually made with very thin rice noodles (Mei Fun) but I decided to use toasted, golden-brown vermicelli (Sevai/Semiya) instead.

Creamy Coconut Milk Vermicelli: Shemai - Frying
Toasted Vermicelli
Toasted vermicelli is available at Indian markets and I like using the toasted variety to save having to toast it at home. The untoasted variety tends to turn to mush when cooked in water.

 The main ingredient in Singapore noodles is curry powder & I prefer S&B brand because it is high in taste, flavour and aroma, but low in spicy heat. To beat the overpowering raw taste of curry powder, it's a good idea to boil it in chicken broth or water and to soak the vermicelli in this liquid. That way, the taste of the curry powder permeates throughout the pasta.

This is a one-dish meal that can be made in under 15 minutes and is a great lunch idea.

1 cup toasted vermicelli
8 oz. cooked shelled shrimp, shredded chicken or tofu for vegetarians
2 cups chicken/vegetable broth or water
1 heaping tsp. curry powder
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 large onion, sliced
1 + 1 green chilies, diced
multi-coloured sweet peppers, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
1 carrot, julienned
1 beefsteak tomato, diced
1 cup mung bean sprouts, tails removed

  1. Simmer curry powder in broth for 3 minutes and remove from heat.
  2. Soak vermicelli in this liquid until water is absorbed doubles in volume. 
  3. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and saute garlic and 1 green chili.
  4. Add onions, peppers, carrots and tomatoes.
  5. Toss with salt to taste and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add vermicelli, along with soaking liquid, shrimp and adjust salt to taste.
  7. Turn heat down to medium, stir, cover skillet and simmer until liquid evaporates and vermicelli is cooked.
  8. Add bean sprouts and toss.
  9. Garnish with remaining diced chilies and serve immediately.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Tangy Stir-Fried Spinach & Mushrooms

Faux Chin Baung Ywet
Food is such a nostalgic experience; this stir-fried dish brought back strong memories of our carefree childhood in Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon.

The True Roselle
In Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, we often had a naturally tangy spinach called Chin Baung Ywet or roselle leaves. The buds of the roselle shrub are sour and make a lovely chutney and jam/jelly.

Sorrel Herb
The closest taste to roselle that's available where I live in North America is sorrel, an herb, which looks like spinach but has a tangy edge to it. We're just now emerging from a frosty winter and sorrel is not in season, so I decided to use plain spinach and finished it off with the juice of one lime just before taking it off the stove. 

Sliced Mushrooms - 16 oz.
Sliced Mushrooms
This dish using roselle or sorrel is usually prepared with shrimp and it tastes exquisite, but I used a 16 oz. tub of sliced mushrooms instead. We also had some left-over french fries from our lunch, so I threw that in, too.

Stir-Fry the Mushrooms
Heated some extra-light tasting olive oil to a skillet and toasted a teaspoon of fennel seeds before added the sliced mushrooms. I like to stir-fry the mushrooms first to prevent them from releasing all their juices. 

Added Minced Garlic
When the mushrooms softened and began to brown, minced garlic was added to them.

Added Minced Onions
Minced onions, diced green chilies and salt were added to the mushrooms and garlic and stir-fried until onions turned translucent.

Tossed French Fries In
Tossed in the french fries and gave it another good stir.

Topped Off With Frozen Spinach
Added a 16 oz. package of frozen and chopped spinach and salt to taste, covered the skillet and allowed the spinach to cook over medium heat.

Garnished With The Juice Of One Lime
Once the spinach was browned around the edges, the juice of a whole lime was squeezed and stirred into it. Tasted wonderful with hot, steamed Basmati rice. Can also be served with any variety of Indian breads.

1 lb. frozen chopped spinach (do not thaw)
4 Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 green chilies, diced (optional or to taste)
1 (16 oz.) tub of sliced mushrooms
1 potato, peeled & cut in strips
1 lime, cut in half
salt to taste

  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat & toast fennel seeds until golden-brown.
  2. Add mushrooms & stir-fry until all moisture (if any) have been released.
  3. Add salt, garlic, onions and green chilies, & stir-fry until onions soften.
  4. Add potatoes, salt to taste and frozen spinach, cover and cook over medium heat until spinach thaws.
  5. Stir well after spinach thaws, cover & cook over medium heat until spinach cooks.
  6. Squeeze lime juice over contents of skillet and transfer to a serving dish.
Serve with hot Basmati rice or any Indian bread.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Stir-Fried Bitter Melon & Eggplant

Karola Begun Bhaja

My trip to the Asian market a couple of days ago proved fruitful because I found a tray of already sliced bitter melons.They were of the Chinese variety which have a smoother and lighter skin than their subcontinental counterparts.

Sour Food Examples Chinese bitter melon
Chinese Bitter Melons

Smooth Gourd Bitter gourd seed amar tara
Subcontinental Bitter Melons

Chinese bitter melons are also less bitter than the subcontinental variety. The long and slender Japanese eggplants go so well when they are stir-fried along with bitter melons.

This dish is a common side served as a first course of a Bengali meal. It's so simple to make and is considered to be beneficial in lowering blood sugar levels. It tastes perfect with any form of Indian bread or steamed Basmati rice.

3 bitter melons, cut in half, deseeded and sliced
2 Asian eggplants, cut in half and sliced
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. whole Bengali 5-spice or panch phoron (equal proportions of fennel, nigella, fenugreek, cumin and mustard seeds)
salt to taste

  1. Toss both vegetables with salt to taste.
  2. Heat oil over medium-high heat and sputter 5-spice.
  3. Stir-fry bitter melon and eggplant slices until golden brown.
  4. Adjust salt and transfer to a serving dish.
Serve with chapatis or Basmati rice.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Breakfast Scrambled Eggs & Potatoes

Alu Deem Bhaja
We were late getting up this morning so we had breakfast for lunch. This was really quick and easy to put together because I used frozen hash brown potatoes from the freezer. But it's just as easy to peel a large russet potato and dice it instead.

Beat Eggs Until Frothy
First, I beat 2 eggs with salt & pepper to taste & a pinch of turmeric powder until frothy. The turmeric gives the eggs a lovely flavour and is what makes it Bengali scrambled eggs.

Stir-Fried Potatoes
Then, 2 cups of diced potatoes were stir-fried with salt & pepper, 1/4 cup each diced tomatoes, green onions and 1 green chili.

Setting Eggs
When the potatoes were cooked, a well was made in the center of the potatoes and a little more butter was melted, the beaten eggs poured in the well and allowed to set around the edges.

Scrambled Eggs & Potatoes
The eggs were then scrambled and stirred with the potatoes...

and mounded on a toasted and split English muffin. Add to that a mug of steaming hot coffee for a deeply satisfying meal. 

Ingredients: (serves 2)
2 eggs, beaten until frothy with
   salt & pepper to taste
   a pinch of turmeric
1 onion, minced
1 tomato, diced
1 green chilli, diced (or to taste)
2 stalks green onions, sliced
handful cilantro, chopped
2 cups potatoes, peeled & diced
2 Tbsp. (1/4 stick) butter
2 English muffins, split and toasted
salt & pepper to taste


  1. Melt half the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Stir-fry onions, tomatoes, chilli, green onions & cilantro until oil resurfaces.
  3. Add potatoes along with salt & pepper and stir well.
  4. Sprinkle some water over potatoes and cover.
  5. Simmer potatoes, stirring occasionally until potatoes are cooked.
  6. Make a well in the center of the potatoes and melt remaining butter.
  7. Pour beaten egg over melted butter and allow edges to set.
  8. Stir and scramble egg into potatoes; turn heat off.
  9. Toast 2 split English muffins, mound scrambled eggs & potatoes over muffin halves and serve with beverage of choice.