When in Myanmar, something I find myself wanting to eat on a daily basis is Burmese Tomato Salad - 'kayan jin thi thouq'. It is a perfectly refreshing salad with a nutty bite that goes excellently with rice, noodle or other salad dishes. Showcasing some of the best produce to be grown in Myanmar, the salad combines fresh tomatoes, shallots, peanuts, coriander and chilli, and is seasoned with toasted chickpea flour, dried shrimp (if available), fish sauce, fresh lime juice and dried chilli. I used to love going to the daily morning market with my shopping basket, ready to buy these ingredients to prepare lunch.
Peanuts are central to Myanmar cuisine, often toasted, crushed or used to make cooking oil. When visiting May Zun Chit in Magway Region, who makes our upcycled baskets, we were shown the peanut plants in her village, a staple food for herself and her family. Alongside the peanuts they also grew sesame. Dried legumes are the second largest export from Myanmar, and a component used widely in Burmese dishes. Salty, crispy broad beans and peanuts are firm favourites for salad toppings.
Freshly picked peanuts from May Zun Chit's village...
... and some harvested sesame plants.
Salads are eaten across Myanmar, typically served as accompaniments to other dishes and steamed rice. Other favourite salads of mine include Chayote Leaf Salad (which is usually very spicy!), and Shan tofu salad, which is made from chickpea flour, shredded cabbage, lime and crispy shallots.
This tomato salad is a super simple, quick and tasty recipe to make.
No cooking* is required!
*(If you already have crispy shallots and toasted chickpea flour)
Burmese Tomato Salad
serves 2 as a side
250g firm tomatoes
1 tbsp toasted chickpea flour
50g peanuts (roasted and/or salted works, rinse off the salt and dry before using)
1 handful chopped coriander
1 small birds eye chilli (red or green)
1/2 lime, juiced
dried chilli, to taste
2 tbsp fish sauce
black pepper, to taste
oil, for frying
1) Chop the shallots and tomatoes lengthways, and the chilli into fine slices, removing seeds.
2) Place the shallots into cold water soak for five minutes.
2) Toast the chickpea flour if you don't have any already prepared. Place the flour in a dry pan on a medium heat and stir until slightly more brown in colour and fragrant.
3) Remove shallots from the water and drain. Use just over half of the shallots to make crispy shallots. Heat vegetable oil in a heavy pan, and fry the shallots until browned and crispy. Remove from oil and leave to drain on kitchen paper until serving.
4) Mix together the tomatoes, chilli, raw shallots, crispy shallots, coriander, peanuts and toasted chickpea flour.
5) Dress the ingredients with the fish sauce, lime, dried chilli, dried shrimp if using, and black pepper.
6) Mix well and serve!
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