Jul 9, 2012

Eating breakfast in Myanmar

People who know my husband and I are frequent international travelers often ask, “What about the food?” They are envisioning a plethora of strange, bizarre, and weird food items they may have seen on television such as deep-fried bugs, beating frog’s heart, and so on. Truthfully one would have to go out of the way to get most of the unique items featured in such shows. As strange as it may seem it is often easier for Americans to dine internationally than it is for foreigners to dine in America. America has a plethora of restaurants offering cuisine of many nationalities.

When we are in Asia we are always impressed by the variety of items on the breakfast buffets. Most hotels try to provide something to whet the appetite of every nationality. Truly, visitors to America, especially Asian visitors often have more trouble finding food they like than Americans do in Asia.

Traders Hotel, which is part of the Shangri-la family of hotels, is one of the few chain hotels represented in Myanmar and one of the finest. Their Yangon hotel breakfast buffet at Traders Café serves an incredible array of food from around the world. There is even one section that has halal food for those of the Islamic faith.

Before selecting my food for breakfast I take a tour of the buffet looking for something other than bacon and eggs. For the British there is beans and grilled tomatoes. From the Chinese section I could have dim sum and noodle soup with all the fixings, and congee – fish, chicken or plain. From the Japanese section guests can opt for miso soup, teriyaki chicken, braised pumpkin while the Myanmar section has mohinga and other selections. To please the Indian palate – and vegetarians - there is potato curry, and for Malaysians char kway teow, which is a noodle dish and one of my favorites. There was also a variety of cheeses, fruits, vegetables, muffin, breads, yogurts, and cereals – truly something for everyone. I complemented Chef Ting Thai Yii on his vast selection of items. I told him I miss the plethora of dishes to choose from when I am in the United States because no restaurant serves such a global variety. He said, “Would you like me to share some recipes so you can make them at home and remember us at Traders.” Of course, I would. Here is his recipe for Indian Char Kway Teow, the national dish of Malaysia.

Malaysian Char Kway Teow
½ cup cooking oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1 ½ tsp chili paste
½ lb chicken sausages sliced
1/3 lb fish cake, sliced
½ cup squid sliced
6 prawns, or large shrimp, whole
½ cup bean sprouts
2 tsp diced chives
½ cup rice noodle
2 eggs

1 tsp sweet soy sauce
1 1/3 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1 1/3 tbsp oyster sauce
¾ tsp sugar
1 tsp chicken powder
1 1/3 tbsp dark soy sauce

Heat the oil in the wok, stir fry the garlic and chili paste for 2 minutes. Add prawns, squid, sausage, fish cake, chive and bean sprouts. Mix constantly until they change color. Add noodles and mix. Cook for 1 minute until the noodles begin to soften. Add sauce ingredients to eggs, mix. Pour the combined egg sauce over the top of the mixture and toss. Ready to serve.