Saturday, July 14, 2012


My mom and I made mohinga (from scratch) this past weekend - my first time :)  The recipe is not for the faint-hearted and my mom already said "let's only make this once a year..." LOL!!!  For those of you that aren't regulars to my blog, mohinga is the national dish of Myanmar and we have been craving the "real deal" since our recent trip.

The cooking took us a solid 5 hours from start to finish (plus another few hours for sourcing the long list of ingredients).  We even have my cousin on Skype to give us step-by-step instruction to make sure we didn't screw up too much!  (It probably wouldn't take us nearly as long, maybe 3 hours, if we knew what we were doing...)

It didn't turn out splendid like the ones we had in Myanmar but it wasn't too bad.  At least I know we used all fresh ingredients and we didn't add any MSG...  Some of my friends actually asked me "why bother?" since it's actually not difficult to get mohinga here in Macau as there is a significant population of Burmese living here...  well, homemade mohinga tastes much better, even when we aren't pros...


8 fresh catfish (塘虱)  
*You can substitute with other similar fish, the key is "fresh".  I think 8 is definitely too many... but the soup turned out to be super sweet and tasty!  if we make mohinga again, I think 4 is max... (my cousin said they normally use 2-3 fish only)
1 medium size ginger
6-8 stalks of lemongrass
2 tbsp shrimp paste

6-8 lbs of banana tree core (蕉樹芯)
1-2 tsp turmeric powder

2 garlics, peeled
12-15 purple shallots / eschalot, peeled

1-2 tsp turmeric powder

1-2 tsp chili powder
2 tbsp fish sauce
4-6 eggs
rice flour (粘米粉)
chickpea powder (黃豆粉)
black pepper corn

red pepper flakes

cilantro, chopped
lemons or limes
various kinds of fritters (fish, bean, gourd, etc.) (油條, 魚餅, 炸洋蔥, 炸葫蘆瓜)
thin clear noodles (vermicelli, rice noodles, pho noodles, etc.)

(the "a" and "b" indicates the steps are happening concurrently)

1a.  Boil a large pot of water (enough to submerge the catfish), add the catfish, 3-4 stalks of lemongrass, ginger, and shrimp paste when the water is boiling for around 5 minutes.  You will see a film of yellow slime appearing on the fish.  Get the fish out and rinse the slime off gently.  Discard the water and the other ingredients.  Set aside.

shrimp paste from Myanmar
that's how much u need

1b.  Peel and slice the banana core into 1 cm slices.  You will want to peel off any fiber from the outer rim and discard the inner core.  At the same time, boil another pot of water (enough to cover all the sliced banana core) and add the turmeric powder and the sliced banana core and bring it to a boil.  Turn off the heat and steam with the lid on for a few minutes.  Drain and set aside.

1c.  Peel the shallots and garlics.  Set aside.

2.  Separate the fish meat from the bones from #1a into 2 piles.  

3a.  Boil another pot of water (the ratio is approximately 2 bowls of water for every fish), add the fish bones and the remaining lemongrass stalk and boil for 20-30 minutes.  Strain the fish stock, discard the bones and lemongrass, and set aside.

3b.  In a mortar and pestle, pound 1/2 a stalk of lemongrass, 1 shallots, and 2 cloves of garlic into a paste.  Heat 4-5 tbsp peanut oil in a saucepan and add the paste.  Cook over low to medium heat to release the aroma. Add the fish meat and coat in the paste.  Sauté over low-medium heat for approximately 5 minutes to infuse flavors.

4a.  Saute 1/4 cup long grained rice and 1 pinch of black pepper corn.  Dry fried for 5 min in a wok, stirring continuously until a golden color and nutty aroma arise.  Grind to a powder in a mortar and pestle or a food processor.

4b.  Boil 1/4 cup chickpeas and grind to a powder in a mortar and pestle or a food processor.

*my mom grind the above (4a & 4b) in a blender by adding water.  Feel free to substitute with rice flour (粘米粉) and chickpea powder (黃豆粉).

5.  Add #3b, #4a, and #4b into #3a and boil for another 20-30 minutes.  Add eggs.  Add the  turmeric powder and chili powder.  Season with fish sauce and salt.  (Measurements above are provided for reference only.)

6.  Add the sliced banana core from #1b and the purple shallots / eschalot from #1c into #5.  The soup is ready when the shallots are soft.  Get the eggs out, rinse, peeled, and set aside.

see that oily yellow film, that's what you want and how you know it's a success!
7.  (Optional) In a mortar and pestle or a food processor, pound / process the remaining garlic cloves.  Heat oil in a wok, sauté the garlic over low to medium heat until golden brown.  (Optional) add a tbsp of chili powder for flavor and color.

8.  Place a handful of noodles in a medium sized bowl, add the soup from #6.  Garnish with chopped cilantro, red pepper flakes, #7, fritters, egg from #6 - halved / quartered.  Squeeze lemon / lime juice.  Ready to serve.

Chinese fried dough
Burmese fritters I bought from a local store.
Making them is just too much work!
well, I am sure you have quite an appreciation of this recipe even if you aren't planning on making it yourself... thanks to the smart local businessmen, you can actually find "instant mohinga" here... again, you can't compare to the ones made from scratch but it's the next best thing...

all you need to do is boil 5 bowls of water, add the content from the packet and 3-4 peeled shallots, and cook over low to medium heat for 20 minutes.  Serve with #8 and you are all set! This is what I usually do when I crave for mohinga in the states.  :)


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