Burmese food: Part 1

This is part one in a series of posts I’ll do about Burmese food. Some will be dishes I make, other posts I might just write about the dish if I am too lazy to make it or it is too labor intensive.

I noticed that there’s not a lot of Burmese food exposure to Westerners. There may only be a handful of Burmese restaurants in the US, I know of two (one in Maryland and one in California). I believe there’s three cookbooks out, one is pretty old and I’ve never read it. I know that its mostly text. There’s no reason to buy a cookbook with only text. I can learn a lot more from a picture than by reading a recipe. That’s why I try to put up photos of each step like in my oyster omelette recipe. There is a Burmese culture and cuisine book out on Amazon that was published in 2003. I can’t really comment on it but that I’d like to get it as soon as some funds roll in this semester. The one I have was just recently published last year by a Burmese lady in the UK. She emigrated to the UK when she was younger (like me!) and she went back to Burma to do research for her cookbook. Her book is Hsaba. It means “Please eat.” It was the first cookbook I bought. Hsaba has a ton of recipes and a lot of pictures. I like that each recipe has a little blurb and explanation too. Almost everything I grew up eating is in the book. It brings a lot of nostalgia looking flipping through the book and it makes me wish I was back in Burma. After being away from Burma for 10 years, its great to look through the book and find out the names and exact ingredients of dishes from Burma. I could ask my parents, but this is much easier. I feel like I’ve been rambling on…

The first recipe I’ll post is Pe Kyaw or yellow split pea crackers. It’s a popular snack eaten by itself or you can crumble it into salads or soups.

yellow split peas
rice flour
*I used about 2.5 cups water and 1 cup rice flour to one pound of dried yellow split peas when I made my batch. Note: I made a really big batch so you might want to downscale.

Soak some yellow split peas over night.
Make the batter by mixing about 2.5:1 ratio by volume of water and rice flour. The batter should be pretty thin.
Add a half teaspoon of turmeric and a teaspoon of salt to the batter.
Then add the drained peas.
Now the fun part, you’ll fry them in a pan covered with a shallow layer of oil.
Make sure the batter is properly mixed before you drop a big spoonful of batter into the pan. The peas and flour will settle at the bottom if you don’t. I find that a chinese soup spoon is a good size for the batter.
When you spoon in the batter into the pan, it should be fluid enough that it easily disperses and flattens into a crack on its own.
Now fry these until you stop seeing steam coming out, you want to cook these all the way and not leave any moisture.
This will ensure that they stay crispy longer. You can store these in the fridge in an airtight container once they are cool.
Try adding these to like a thick stew to add some crunch. I think they’d work pretty well in a lentil soup also.

frying some pe kyaw
There should be enough oil to fully cover the pan and submerge most of the batter. You can fry about 4 at a time depending on your pan size.

pe kyaw
Adding the turmeric to the batter gives the batter a yellow color to match the peas.

a big batch of pe kyaw (yellow split pea crackers)
Needless to say, I might have gone a little overboard and made too much. They’ll keep well in airtight containers in the refrigerator.

This ends part 1 of my Burmese food post series. More to come soon.