Join twowildtides on the country challenge. Each week, we’re going to be heading to a new country (in spirit). Primarily, we’ll be cooking a meal from each country; but we’ll also be watching travel documentaries, reading travel blogs, and listening to music. During the global pandemic, travel is largely inaccessible. We want to reignite our wanderlust, satisfy our travel bug as much as we can, and learn some new things along the way. I have a feeling our bucket list will have a number of items added to it through this experience as well. We created a simple alphabetical spreadsheet with all the countries of the world, and each week we will draw a random number that corresponds with a country on the spreadsheet.
This week we found ourselves in Myanmar, also known as Burma, in Southeast Asia. I was curious about why Myanmar and Burma were used to refer to the country somewhat interchangeably. From Wikipedia:
In April 2016, soon after taking office, Aung San Suu Kyi said concerning the question of which name should be used that, “it is up to you, because there is nothing in the constitution of our country that says that you must use any term in particular”. She continued, “I use Burma very often because I am used to using it. But it does not mean that I require other people to do that as well. And I’ll make an effort to say Myanmar from time to time so you all feel comfortable”.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myanmar#Etymology
Despite ongoing issues with long-running civil war, certain areas of Myanmar are still safe for travel. Myanmar and Burmese culture are fascinating and diverse, and it appears the country has a lot to offer. While Myanmar’s neighbour, Thailand, has been on top of my bucket list for quite some time, I think Myanmar is up there now as well.
The unofficial national dish of Myanmar is Mohinga, a ramen-like dish traditionally served for breakfast in Myanmar. Mohinga graces many lists about Burmese cuisine, including this one by CNN Travel, this one by Thailand Tatler, this one by Migrationology, this one by TasteAtlas, and this one by 12Go.Asia. We followed this recipe by Food Republic:
This was a fun recipe to work on. I had never made a broth from scratch before. We swapped catfish for fresh Atlantic Cod that we had on hand. Lemongrass and fish sauce were two new ingredients I’d had in food before but hadn’t yet cooked with. The recipe calls for fresh lemongrass stalks but I couldn’t get that locally, so I opted for lemongrass paste instead. The fish sauce was available in our Asian food aisle. It smells pretty horrible but certainly didn’t taste that way!
The broth created a wonderful aroma of ginger and lemongrass throughout the house. (Thankfully, it masked the fish smell!)
The recipe requires you roast rice in the oven, grind it up in a food processor, whisk it with a ladleful of broth, and stir the paste into the broth until it thickens slightly. This was an interesting technique and while it worked just find, it was hard to tell what it added to the dish. It reminded me of miso paste in miso soup.
Another interesting aspect of the recipe was mashing the fish into a paste to add to the broth. The turmeric and paprika were absolutely delicious with the garlic and ginger.
Once we added the fish mixture, red onions, and fish sauce to the broth, it was ready to serve. While the broth simmered, we had been preparing medium-boiled eggs, chopped cilantro, and rice noodles. It was a very aesthetically pleasing dish and tasted as good as it looked!
While we ate, we watched a few travel vlogs about Myanmar:
Mack and I both feel like Mahinga is one of the best dishes we’ve cooked so far in this challenge. It’s up there with Uzbekistan, Vatican City, and Czechia. Have you been to Myanmar? Have you tried Mahinga? Leave us a comment!