Customarily the end of monsoon in Myanmar heralds an ideal climate stretching to around six to eight months for travel. The rainy season has ended as the cold season begins. The sky is clear and sunny and the weather is cool. Of course it is cooler in the hilly regions in the upper reaches of Shan State in the north east. Kachin State in the north and the Chin Hills in the north west reaches. where the temperature dips to the fringes of freezing discomfort to Yangonites. Especially magnificent. for me and my likes is the bewitching panorama and chilling sensation of the hilly regions. where the wind bites into your face. where the verdant green of the mountains. the hazy blue of the mountain mists. and the multi-colour attired ethnic peoples enthrall you. Equally fascinating is the simple and nourishing food the Shan chefs have to offer to the gourmets in quest for exotic food of the regions. Such a wide array and variety are there for you to taste and enjoy. And I for the love of it have volunteered myself to allure you to the delights of these snacks. The Shan Fish-tomato rice snack will the topic of my presentation.
- Rice (preferably Shan variety)
- fresh-water fish (Ophiocephalus striatus) preferably those fished from the Inlay Lake
- some tomato. onion. garlic
- some tamarind pulp
- some coriandar leaves
- some dried red chilli
- some dried soybean cake
- some salt and oil
How to cook
Preparation which goes in the making of the rice entails a long process. First cook rice to required texture. Then put in a bowl and allow it to cool. Boil the fish. Scoop from pot with sieve and let it cool. Then separate flesh from bones and mash. Boil the tomatoes. Grate them into fine pulp.
Roast soybean cake. and pound into fine powder. Pound garlic. onion. Deep-fry in oil adding a pinch of red colouring powder. Then add the mashed boiled fish into the heated oil mix and stir. Fry the dried red chilli till crisp.
Mixing the tomato rice First place the cooked rice in a large bowl. Then pour the fried fish-onion-garlic mix on the rice. Add tomato pulp and a dash of salt. Then stir briskly with a ladle. Then make the fish-tomato-rice into sizeable balls. Sprinkle with roasted soybean powder. Arrange the balls neatly on a flat platter. Laying the table. You will notice there is quite an array of ingredients that go with the rice ball to heighten the taste and accentuate the presentation.
The side dishes include:
- a small bowl of roasted soybean powder.
- a small bowl of prawn. fish or Chinese table sauce.
- a small bowl of thick tamarind pulp paste.
- a half-plate of finely cut coriander leaves.
- a half-plate of fried dry chilli.
- a half-plate of Shan white vegetable root
- The main item i.e. the platter of fish-tomato-rice balls takes the centre role.
How to partake
Put one rice ball on your dinner plate. Mix with the array of ingredients to taste. Repeat if your appetite is good. Relish the distinctly unique Shan flavour. This snack also goes well with local fries such as fried tofu. fried pork rind. or thin sesame rice wafer.
Local gourmets also flavour a hot sour vegetable pickle made from pickled turnip. garlic. onions. ginger and mustard green leaves.
Enjoy this delicious fare at source in the Shan State. Accompany it with a delicious fish soup. and feel the cool breeze teasing your cheeks. Then top it with aromatic Shan green tea.