Burmese food part 3: Baya-kyaw

Bayakyaw is a popular snack food in Burma. It’s a thick paste made of ground yellow split peas, chilies, coriander leaves, and onions. Golf ball sized portions of the batter is deep fried until crispy on the outside. They’re pretty much like falafel except falafel is made with chickpeas or fava beans.

My dad made these. Next to them are meatballs.
byakyaw - yellow split pea fritters

If you skip to 1:52-4:00, you can see the vendor mixing bayakyaw and frying them up. There’s a lot of fritters featured in the video: bayakyaw, shan tofu, samosas, fried gourd, etc. Typically these are added as extras to soups or salads but they are also eaten as a snack through out the day. Because of the broad availability of street vendors in busy areas, people usually don’t make these fritters at home. You almost take them for granted until you are overseas and there are no vendors.

*video credits to meemalee3

In this video, Cho, the author of Hsaba demonstrates how to make bayakyaw. Here’s the recipe from her website. Thanks to Cho for doing all the work for me. =p

Bayakyaw go great with a sour dipping sauce like this one:

juice of 1 lime, 1 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tsp sugar, 1 chopped garlic clove, 1 chopped thai chili, some coriander leaves. Mix and serve.

Fried fritters also go great with a tamarind dip:

1 tbsp tamarind pulp, 1/4 cup warm water, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1 crushed garlic clove. After mixing the ingredients, you need to strain it to get the tamarind solids out. I like to let the crushed garlic clove chill out in the dip to release it’s oils and flavor into the sauce. This tamarind dip should be sour with a tiny bit of sweetness but I like mine with some heat. If you want some heat, replace the 1/2 tsp salt with Sriracha to taste. You don’t need the salt since Sriracha has a good sodium content.

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Kazu’s again!

I have a massive craving for sushi right now. Instead of satisfying my craving, I’m sitting here writing about sushi instead. This is from awhile ago. I was hungry so I ordered a bento box and two sushi rolls. As always, the service at Kazu’s was great.

The bento box included a siesta roll (cilantro, sriracha, tempura shrimp, avocado), three pieces of nigiri, a piece of fried white fish, salad, and miso soup. Remember the last time, I said that the ginger dressing tasted funny? This time, it was different and I enjoyed the salad. There was something weird about the dressing the last time I had it. That doesn’t matter though. I just want sushi. I don’t care much for sides.
kazu's - siesta roll bento

I also ordered a spicy tuna roll and mexican roll.
Kazu's - spicy tuna and mexican roll

Chelsea got the tempura udon. The tempura shrimp was legendary. It was calling for me to eat it. It takes a lot for tempura to impress me. It’s very hard to get it right. Raw Bar and Kazu’s know what they’re doing and have got it right. When I fantasize about tempura that’s what I picture in my head. On the other hand, Gainesville hasn’t kindled my tempura fantasies. Out of the four sushi (Miya, Matsuri, Shooting Star, Dragonfly) places I’ve tried tempura in Gainesville, none was really memorable.
Kazu's - tempura udon

Here’s a picture where you can really see how big the shrimp was. When I got home and went through the pictures, I found that some pictures I took captured Chelsea failing at picking up the noodles. See here for an animation the fail.
Kazu's - tempura udon

South Garden in Haile Plantation

One day I was shopping at Oriental 88 and I saw a menu for dim sum posted on the store window. Ever since I saw that, I’ve been looking for any excuse to try the dim sum. South Garden has been open for 2 years but they only recently started serving dim sum. The location isn’t ideal for attracting customers since it’s far from UF and I don’t see many Asian students driving to Haile Plantation to get dim sum. Haile Plantation is awesome though, it’s this community in west Gainesville that almost feels like a small town where everyone knows each other. As Darya mentioned, it’s like the town that Gilmore Girls takes place in.

Clockwise: taro cake, har gow (shrimp dumplings), and spare ribs.
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Egg tarts and stuffed eggplant.
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Shrimp rice noodle rolls with a sweet soy sauce and bok choy.
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Pan fried chive dumplings.
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The taro cake was a little weird. This was the first time I’ve seen it made with so much taro. All previous versions I’ve had, including my mom’s, had less taro and more rice flour. The two dishes I always order to judge a dim sum restaurant are har gow and spare ribs. The har gow was good but the spare ribs didn’t pass my test. There was too much sauce on the ribs. I like them lighter with just a little bit of black bean sauce. Overall, I enjoyed everything except for the spare ribs. The prices were fair and I would definitely go back again.

Midnight snack

This was bound to be featured sooner or later. The base of the college student food pyramid is ramen noodles. You hear all the time that they’re bad for you, but the noodles are just carbohydrates and some fat. It’s all the sodium and preservatives in the flavoring packet that’s bad for your health. I like using ramen noodles because they cook (~2-3mins) so quickly compared to other noodles (>10mins). I barely use the flavoring packet that comes in the package. Usually, I will drain the noodles and toss them with a teaspoon of soy sauce and garlic or onion oil. Sometimes I’ll use half the flavoring packet, but put in leftover meats, frozen vegetables, eggs, or fish balls in the soup.

This particular post is something I recently improvised. I’ve started incorporating dark soy sauce in my food to experiment. I’ve replaced light soy sauce with dark or used a blend of light and dark in my dishes and you can taste the difference. It’s thicker and sweeter than light soy due to is composition of molasses. When you cook it, the flavor develops more. You also don’t get as much of that strong umami taste as with light soy. It doesn’t taste very good when I tried to use it as a dipping sauce.

Throw this away, you don’t need this.
ramen packet

After boiling the noodles and dumplings, drain them, and stir fry them in a pan with some oil. (If you look close enough, you can see that I broke the skin off one of the dumplings and the filling came out.)
in the pan

Add some dark soy sauce. It adds a nice color to dishes like bland ramen noodles. Light soy sauce doesn’t cut it. I took out the noodles after a minute and left the dumplings in to crisp them up.
dumplings

Garnish with chives.
noodles with dumplings

Yay!

I just bought myself some presents. Total impulse buys. This is what happens when I’m alone, hungry, and bored at midnight. I’m convinced I made the right choices in my selection.

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In order:
The Oxford Companion to Food
Kitchen Confidential
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
The New Best Recipe

Next on my list of things to buy are a Global GS-3 5″ chef’s knife (to add to the 8″ G2 chef’s knife I already own), a sharpening stone (need to research these), and a Le Creuset 5 quart dutch oven. I need to start saving up for that dutch oven and my birthday is nowhere close. Looks like I’m on my own.