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Cookbook of the Month June 2013: BURMA by Naomi Duguid

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Well, that was an exciting nomination and voting process, in which I realised that you really can't please all of the people, all of the time!

We've chosen BURMA: RIVERS OF FLAVOR by Naomi
Duguid. Posting threads will go up on the 1st June, but until then we can use this thread for general discussion of the book.

Please note that the nomination process for July will start early as I'm going to Italy in mid-June and would like to get it done and dusted by then, so I'm not worrying about it while I'm away with only an ipad and patchy wi-fi!

Basics, salads, soups, vegetables
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/903914

Fish & Seafood, Chicken, Beef & Pork
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/903915

Condiments & Sauces, Rice, Noodles, Sweet Treats
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/903916

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  1. I will be back home tomorrow if u need help

    1 Reply
    1. re: jpr54_1

      Thanks for the offer, jpr54_1. I've just seen that the contents page for the book can be viewed on Amazon, so I should be able to work from that.

    2. You did a great job with this more complicated than typical voting process!

      I am going to refrain from buying the book at this point (even though it looks beautiful!), but I will I will I will cook some online recipes. Possibly starting with golden egg curry: http://www.seriouseats.com/2012/10/na...

      1 Reply
      1. re: debbiel

        I'm quite curious about this dish as I've had a Parsi egg curry at a friends house once and it was great.

      2. EYB has links to the following 30 online recipes from Burma:

        • Chicken salad, Burma style

        • 
Kachin salsa (Zap toe)

        • 
Fried sesame-seed bananas

        • 
Lemongrass-ginger sliders

        • 
Spice-rubbed jerky

        • 
Golden egg curry

        • 
River fish celebration

        • 
Simmered cabbage, Shan style (Galaam oop)

        • 
Smoky napa stir-fry

        • 
Succulent pomelo salad

        • 
Punchy-crunchy ginger salad (Gyin thoke)

        • 
Tender greens salad with crispy fried shallots

        • 
Long-bean salad with roasted peanuts

        • 
Banana flower salad, Rakhine style

        • 
Shrimp salad

        • 
Silky Shan soup (Tohu byawk)

        • 
Chickpea soup with lemongrass and ginger

        • 
Broccoli rabe with a hint of pork

        • 
Fried noodles

        • 
Coconut sauce noodles (Ohn-no khaut swe)

        • 
Kachin pounded beef with herbs

        • 
Fish balls

        • 
Shrimp curry

        • 
Fried shallots

        • 
Shallot oil

        • 
Dried shrimp powder

        • 
Toasted chickpea flour

        • 
Chopped roasted peanuts

        • Intensely green spinach and tomato salad with peanuts

        Regardless of whether you are a member, you'll be able to find those links here:

        http://www.eatyourbooks.com/library/r...

        3 Replies
        1. re: Breadcrumbs

          Thanks for the link. I've bookmarked 4 of them to try next month. I'm feeling quite inspired at the moment.

          By the way, some of the links from EYB doesn't work. Is there a way to report it? Or do I have to go through the forums?

          1. re: lilham

            Lilham, go to your EYB bookshelf. Scroll down to the very bottom. On the extreme right you will see "Report an error". Click on that and you will be able to send an e-mail. In a short while you'll get a reply at the e-mail account in your profile. I've done it several times

            1. re: Gio

              Thanks, I've reported it. For anyone who's using this, the recipe links that didn't work for me are the spice-rubbed jerky and kachin salsa.

        2. Ms. Duguid is visiting a few cities including in Eastern Canada mainly talking about Burma and showing photos. For those interested: http://naomiduguid.com/#153/custom_plain

          23 Replies
          1. re: herby

            Those dates are from last year! She did that tour just after the book was published. Unfortunately, I missed her when she was in Ottawa. She was at a local bookstore, and the catering was by a nearby scone shop, which i thought was an odd choice of food to accompany her book talk!

            1. re: pavlova

              You are absolutely right, Pavlova, and thank you for clarifying. I didn't even looked at the year assuming that her site info will be current. Happy to find Ottawa-based ch'er - I thought I was the only one :)

              1. re: herby

                Oh, I didn't know you were in Ottawa! Glad to hear it!

                1. re: pavlova

                  I used to have to trek to Ottawa for my burmese fix but there's a new burmese restaurant in Montreal now. I'll be trying it out on Wednesday.

                  1. re: marblebag

                    Seriously Montreal? Much closer to NH than Ottawa (or DC or SF),,,,do tell if it is any good!

                    1. re: marblebag

                      Hah--usually Mr. QN does most of the Burmese cooking, not sure who is on the hook for the COTM cooking next month.....

                      Anyway, I'll convey your thank you to him.

                      Seriously though, 90+% of these recipes can be made without any more "special" or "exotic" ingredients than fish sauce, and maybe dried shrimp.

                      Post Script--Drat, I forgot the Firefox curse again, this post was supposed to reply to LN below...

                      1. re: qianning

                        Hah... Now, that's what I wanted to hear. I read a few chapters with the idea of making my To Cook list and consciously stayed away from from the "hard to find" items. Seriously, I wonder why I still can't find lemongrass and galangal around here !

                        1. re: Gio

                          Hmm, our Nashua area Market Basket carries lemongrass these days, but I can't speak to the ones in your area or groceries on other parts.

                          Fresh galangal can be hit or miss even in Asian groceries; but all most all of them have it frozen whole in the freezer section. But really, a bit of fresh grated ginger will do fine as a sub for galangal.

                          1. re: Gio

                            lemongrass can also be purchased from online herb nurseries
                            that's is where I have purchased most of my asian herb plants

                            1. re: Gio

                              I've found both fresh lemongrass and galangal at HK Market. I suspect the Malden one will have both as well. I've also seen lemongrass at WF as well.

                              1. re: Gio

                                Market Basket in Somerville carries both all the time these days.

                              2. re: qianning

                                I noticed the same thing when I was compiling my recipes to try. Surprisingly, there were very few specialty items to purchase.

                                I did try to find shrimp paste and was only able to find a Maylasian variety. http://www.asiansupermarket365.com/Sh... Do you think this will do? The Thai varieties I saw had oil as an ingredient. I have to admit, after trying a recipe with Belcan a few years ago, I still remember (fear?) the powerful odor. I think my husband might have objected when we were shopping yesterday if he knew what I was buying.:

                                )

                                I am also still looking for the soybean disks. I did not see them on the sites you linked (and thank you for sharing them). Did I miss them?

                                The Memorial Day weekend turned out to be a great time to prepare for Burma. I made the dried shrimp powder, tart-sweet chile-garlic sauce, chopped roasted nuts, toasted chickpea flour, red chile powder and fried shallots. Unfortunately I'll have to re-do the shallots. I only made half a recipe and I think my oil temperature was a bit too high too. They looked done as I removed them from the oil, but in the time I removed them and put them on paper towels to drain, they had gone from golden brown to a very dark brown making them bitter. Will try again.

                                1. re: BigSal

                                  I hear you about the shrimp paste, haha! My family strictly forbids me to toast it in the house. I occasionally try to sneak a small amount into a dish while in the kitchen, hoping no-one will notice, but it doesn't seem to matter how much or little of this ingredient you use, it still unleashes the full pungent glory of its scent upon the world!
                                  In "Burma", Duguid mentions that she uses Koon Chun brand shrimp paste (tho it's called fine shrimp sauce), which you should be able to find in any Thai grocer. I have both the paste in a tub and the hard belacan in block form, and they both seem to work well..

                                  1. re: Allegra_K

                                    Thanks for the tip! I'll look for the Koon Chun shrimp sauce.

                                  2. re: BigSal

                                    We always use Thai shrimp paste--two ingredients, shrimp and salt. Depending on availability, there are two brands we use, "Trachang Brand" which comes in a small white plastic container with a yellow label, and which we prefer because it has a higher ratio shrimp:salt. There's another brand we use, but I don't have any in the house and can't remember the name-it is long and Thai--it comes in a plastic container with a red top and red white and blue label, IIRC. But then again, we are the types who like shrimp paste....for those who can't stand the stuff (or have Dining Companions who can't), fish sauce is a good substitute in most dishes.

                                    The soybean discs are available on minthila web site, in Burmese "Peal Poke" (or per minthila Peal pork!), in Shan "tua nao"
                                    here is the link to the product.
                                    http://store.minthila.com/mf109.html

                                    My sympathy on the garlic. I've burned more batches than I care to recall.

                                    1. re: qianning

                                      I see on this website you linked to that they also do international orders....and I'm very curious about the tea leaves as well. Is this a tasty enough salad that it would be worth it to order them? (And thanks for the clarification of the soybean discs-I would never have known the peal pork was the same thing!)

                                      ETA:Never mind about the tea leaves. Shipping is atrocious.

                                      1. re: qianning

                                        Thanks for the tip on subbing fish sauce for shrimp paste. My partner won't let it in the house but he can handle fish sauce.

                                        1. re: qianning

                                          Thanks for the help finding the soybean discs AND the tip on using fish sauce as a substitute for shrimp paste. Not having to overcome the odor of the paste may help the Mr. warm up to some new flavors this month. Wish me luck!

                                          P.S. My second batch of fried shallots is still a little darker than I wanted, but workable. They are so crispy and sweet...very addicting!

                                        2. re: BigSal

                                          I feel the same way about shrimp paste. I used it once and it seemed like it was a month later when we all finally stopped smelling it. Yikes.

                                        3. re: qianning

                                          qianning - No matter where your post ends up, I appreciate your help! I've placed my order! I'm dying to try that tea salad.

                                          1. re: qianning

                                            I just received my order of fermented tea leaves! I haven't opened the plastic wrap yet, but I'm impressed with the rapid delivery! I'm 3,000 miles away, and it arrived in a couple of days!

                                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                                              what is the complete name of the product at the site/
                                              did u purchase anything else?

                                          2. re: marblebag

                                            Was it Rangoon you were visiting? I went a couple of weeks ago and found it very ordinary, but maybe we didn't order the right things. What's the name of the one in Montreal? Maybe it's time for me to make the trek!

                                  3. I sure hope that this turns out to be a successful book for those that participate. For the most part I've been very pleased with what I've made, especially with the fresh and exciting salads--and there's much more to discover within the pages. Gave Burma a thorough perusal yesterday and have a substantial list of enticing recipes to try, more than I expected.

                                    Now it's time to plan the shopping list. Number one ingredient to stockpile? SHALLOTS! Seriously. You'll go through pounds of 'em.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                      Thanks for the heads-up about the shallots, Allegra. I love 'em. I voted for (and purchased) Burma because of the salads that I saw in the list.
                                      GG, it was a fascinating "ride" towards this COTM and you are to be commended for guiding us along so well.

                                      1. re: Goblin

                                        I agree with you & Allegra on the salads - I wasn't too sure that I would be participating this month as I was out of town when the extended voting took place (I had reserved Soul from my library, and was super-excited to see TGI had arrived from the UK in less than two weeks time - thought I was "home-free" with my cookbooks!). Undeterred, I perused Burma on the Amazon site and decided the salads (and many other recipes) looked fantastic. Found a good deal on a used book, and ordered it! We do have a well-stocked Thai/Asian grocery in town, so this should be quite fun & educational!

                                    2. Good job on the sticky wicket noms & votes this month, GG... It was fun, though, and one gathers quite a lot of information during the debates. I've had this book since February and have half-heartedly perused it from time to time. I guess it's now time to take it seriously.

                                      1. Thanks for your work this month greedygirl! It was an interesting ride.

                                        I'm looking though Burma, and feeling a little concern about the advance prep necessary for recipes to which I was drawn, but hoping to give some dishes a try, at least on weekends.

                                        Does anyone know anything about fermented tea leaves? I've actually been trying to find them for a while, now I have even more incentive. I've asked at the Asian store here, and they were totally mystified. Do they go by another term? Or do you somehow ferment them yourself?

                                        18 Replies
                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                          teas that are fermented include oolongs and kombucha but Burmese fermented tea leaves are different.

                                          fermented tea leaves-lahpet or pickled tea/wet tea

                                          http://www.inpursuitoftea.com/categor...

                                          http://www.thekitchn.com/lahpet-burme...

                                          1. re: jpr54_1

                                            But the fermented teas that is called for in Burmese food are leaves that have actually been fermented or pickled, right?

                                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                                              Upon further reading, I think the author answered my question. She reports that they're nearly impossible to find outside of Burma, and that she only included the tea leaf salad recipe as an act of optimism, hoping that they become more available some day.

                                              1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                For those based in the US, and if you are willing to buy from on-line vendors, La Phat (fermented tea leaves) and several other Burmese specific ingredients are available from these sources:

                                                http://store.minthila.com/myanmarfood...
                                                http://www.littleburmaonlinegrocery.com/

                                                Also, for those in the SF Bay area, DC, or Ft. Wayne Indiana areas, there are some groceries that cater to the Burmese immigrant populations.

                                                1. re: qianning

                                                  I was looking at this product a little while ago. Not much of the site is in English (but the type is certainly lovely!). Do you have any idea if this is the fermented tea that is called for?

                                                  http://store.minthila.com/mf138.html

                                                  It's what comes up in a search for laphet or fermented tea. On the other site you mentioned, all that comes up are things that say "bean snack."

                                                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                    not sure, I've never seen this package/brand before. Mr. QN does all of our Burmese dry goods ordering. I'll confer with him and get back to you,

                                                    I do know that the brand he bought most recently is minthila's item number mf004, you'll see it on the right-hand side of the page you linked to if you scroll down a bit. But I don't know exactly why he bought that particular type.

                                                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                      It turns out the product you linked to is not fermented tea leaves, rather it is a type of crispy that is sometimes part of the mix in the salad (similar to the split roasted soybeans that ND has in her recipe. Contrast of textures is a big thing in Laphet).

                                                      FWIW, Mr. QN recommends this brand of fermented tea leaf:
                                                      http://store.minthila.com/mangapiht.html

                                                      1. re: qianning

                                                        Thank Mr. QN for me, I will take his recommendation!
                                                        Can you, or he, tell me if there is banana stem on that page? I wish ND had given more of the Burmese names of ingredients.

                                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                          No banana stem on the minthila site. Around here we can occasionally find them in Cambodian grocery stores. But to be honest we don't go out of our way for it, although traditional in a mohingha it really doesn't add much of any flavor, just a bit of crunch.

                                                          Totally agree with you about the lack of Burmese names/titles in the book.

                                                          1. re: qianning

                                                            I want to thank you and Mr. QN for the fermented tea leave recommendation. I'm ordering them, and I would have ordered the other package as it has "laphat" in the label, which seemed reasonably close to laphet. I had to laugh at your statement about Mr. QN doing all of your Burmese ordering. Would that we all had someone like that this coming month!

                                              2. re: jpr54_1

                                                jpr54 - I think it's a little unfair to edit your response to my question after I've replied to it. Your response originally said only that oolong teas were fermented. And I replied as below it, that fermented teas are something different in Burmese cooking. Your edited response makes my reply seem like I was ignoring or disagreeing with your response. Obviously, I'm feeling a bit prickly here, but I don't think posts should be changed after responses are posted.

                                                1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                  i think u misunderstood my response
                                                  i thought about my original response and felt it didnt answer the question. i wasn't ignoring or diagreeing.
                                                  i respect all of your responses-
                                                  i had just returned home from vacation in nj and also did not have the book with me

                                                  1. re: jpr54_1

                                                    Sorry, no worries. I do find it helpful to say "ETA" or otherwise note that a post is edited once people have responded to it. Or just add a new post. Then the responses make more sense.

                                                    1. re: jpr54_1

                                                      now that I am back home in Florida-I am going to try to find the pickled tea.
                                                      I read the description this morning in the book. Not sure what tea they use for the pickling.
                                                      I am going to explore more in my tea books and online tea blogs.

                                                      1. re: jpr54_1

                                                        Good luck with pickling tea---we have zumpteen bottles of Mr. QN's home-made in the fridge, but somehow every time he makes Lepeth Thoke he ends up using the commercial product. Not sure if he trusts his own fermenting recipe!

                                                        1. re: jpr54_1

                                                          I just posted a question on laphet on yahoo group tea site Teamail.
                                                          I have been a member for many years and members have always been helpful.

                                                  2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                    Just do the advance prep ones, stockpile fried shallots, shallot oil, etc...and then everything is remarkably quick to make...truly. But the supply of shallots is an essential!

                                                    1. re: naomiduguid

                                                      I'm beginning to see that is true. This week, however, I didn't do any advance prep, and I'm doing dishes that don't require any!

                                                  3. Hello all, quick question for anyone who is familiar with the shrimp powder. I made the traveller's curry some time ago and I found I really disliked the flavour of the shrimp powder I had made. There is a large amount in that dish so perhaps a smaller amount would have been less offensive, but I am a little worried about this ingredient. I am ok with fish sauce and I have used shrimp paste a few times, but this powdered shrimp I made just overpowered everything.

                                                    Was it the quantity of is this just the nature of the beast?

                                                    I have checked on EYB and there are over 150 recipes from the book that don't involve the shrimp paste, so I can avoid it if I want, but some of those salads that include it look really good.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: delys77

                                                      I'd try again if I were you, and just use less. One of my biggest obstacles in eating is that for almost all of my life I have hated seafood (and grew up on the Chesapeake, so Ms. Paul's fish sticks are not to blame!). It has only slowly worked its way into my palate with Thai food, but even then, only at the margins. I write to say that I am VERY sensitive to fishy tastes. I have made a few of the salads in Duguid's book, and found that the shrimp powder really did just melt into the dish -- like anchovy paste often does, or fish sauce. Maybe try different dried shrimp? Do you have a reliable vendor to get good quality? Anyway, I'd just say keep trying...

                                                      1. re: delys77

                                                        Delys--I made the dish some time ago and had the same reaction; I thought it much too overpowering. I have found the shrimp powder in other dishes to be rather inoffensive, and in this recipe I think it was the dried anchovies that didn't hit the spot for me--I would definitely reduce for next time. Luckily this is the only recipe in the book that calls for this ingredient...

                                                        1. re: Allegra_K

                                                          Thanks Allegra and Mary, I am gathering my courage to try one of the salads with a moderate amount of the powder to see who it goes.

                                                          Fingers crossed.

                                                      2. David Lebovitz did an adaptation of the cookbook's Simplest Beef Curry with Shallots. Here is the link: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2013/05/...

                                                        He has made some helpful suggestions at the bottom and includes serving suggestions.

                                                        I made it as he suggested with the Korean chile powder and it was really good. I served it with mustard greens.

                                                        And as a side note - if you want to get in the mood for Burmese cooking CNN is running an Anthony Bourdain episode where he goes to Burma. Er. Myanmar to some. It was pretty interesting.

                                                        Have fun in Italy Greedygirl!

                                                        Edit: It just now dawns on me that I may have violated the COTM dealio by talking about a recipe. Have I? If so I will erase that part. I am not up on the guidelines you all use b/c I don't often comment or participate on the COTMs Anyone? Bad girl?

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                          Sal, I wouldn't worry about it. Many , OK some of us, start early for whatever reason. You really didn't report on the recipe, just made a few comments and gave us something to think about. For that I say thank you!

                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                            I agree with Gio in this as in so many things. And I'm (nominally) in charge of COTM at the moment, so it must be true. ;-)

                                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                                              The Lebovitz article was a Good Read... LOL

                                                            2. re: Gio

                                                              Whew!

                                                              I ended up getting the book so I am excited to be trying it out and chatting about itand seeing what others are liking. Yay!

                                                          2. Thank you, gg, as always, for your deft cat-herding this month.

                                                            Does anyone know if shrimp paste keeps somewhat indefinitely? I have some in the fridge that's been there a while, not sure how long exactly. With its inherent odoriferousness, I doubt the old smell test will be of much use.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                              I'd guess that shrimp paste made during the height of the Roman Empire would still be good....seriously though, just look out for salt separation, if all, not just a thinnish crust, of the salt is on the top, and if the shrimp paste has turned liquid, worry. Otherwise, your good to go.

                                                              1. re: qianning

                                                                I agree. it should be fine. It's designed to be stable in hot temperatures for a long time...

                                                            2. So I picked up my library copy yesterday and am getting ready for Burmese month! A couple of questions about the pantry staples:

                                                              For the toasted chickpea flour, can I use Bob's Red Mill (available at local health food store) or do I need to use Indian chickpea flour.

                                                              For the chopped roasted peanuts, is there any reason I can't buy my peanuts pre-roasted?

                                                              Is the tua nao a lot better than the miso paste substitute?

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Westminstress

                                                                I sorta wondered the same thing about subbing miso paste. And so I went looking and will pass 2 things for you to look at:http://www.foodfromnorthernlaos.com/2... and http://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-di.... I thought miso that I have on hand plus a little korean chili powder I use for kimchi.

                                                                I use Bob's chickepea flour. I have used indian brands and see I can't discern any difference.

                                                                Roasted nuts. I buy the roasted and toss for a few minutes them in the oven to get the flavor going again. I suspect that if I did not put them in the oven nobody wold call me on it.

                                                                1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                  Absolutely, ob's Red Mill is just fine; I often use it. And it's really hard to tell the difference between the tua nao and miso, if you use a good not-sweet miso. Tua nao varies a lot from place to place. Usually it has NO chile or other heat or flavour in it.
                                                                  The place in the link, where they were making tua nao, is in northern Laos, and it is Lao people, not Shan, who are making the tua nao. That family adds salt and chiles, but usually chiles are not included; heat is added while cooking in the form of dried red chiles, whole or powdered.

                                                                  1. re: naomiduguid

                                                                    Thank you! Very informative.

                                                              2. Dear fellow COTMers

                                                                The threads are up for BURMA. It's a bit early I know, but it's finally sunny in the UK, and I have plans for tomorrow which don't involve the internet!

                                                                Watch out for July's nomination thread, which will be coming very soon...

                                                                Yours,

                                                                Greedygirl

                                                                1. Here are the reporting threads:

                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/903914

                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/903915

                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/903916

                                                                  1. I am in the process of making tua nao, and my soybeans have been fermenting for nearly 2 1/2 days now. I have them sitting covered with a damp cloth, in a warm space (the oven with the pilot light on) in a woven basket, just as Duguid directs. All seems good, however, there is not a trace of the "slightly sweet fermented odor" that she writes should be coming from the beans. To put it mildly, they absolutely reek. My husband came home from work this evening and immediately asked if we were in possession of rotting seafood. The beans are clumping together, and some of them have a white-ish coating on them (more slimy than fuzzy).
                                                                    This is attempt #2 at fermenting the soybeans, and the first batch was even worse than the second, growing a nice fur coat to go with the smell (tho I don't blame them, as it was January!).
                                                                    So what am I doing wrong here? I showed a friend a real disc of tua nao, and after she gave it a good sniff, she told me that it smelled just like what was funking up my kitchen, so am I on the right track after all? I am tempted to toss the whole thing, but also curious to see if pounding the paste and drying the discs would make it somehow better. There is definite umami potential, just not sure if it's quite right.
                                                                    Guidance and/or suggestions are truly appreciated.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                      I have to honest that I've picked up some miso to use in place of the tua nao as I was too scared to give the fermenting process a try. Kudos to you Allegra for taking it on! I'm sure the drying process will mitigate the funk. That said I wonder if there is any risk of food borne illness. Not to discourage you of course, I suppose the word fuzz worried me a little. Maybe see it through and see what happens, you can be our tua nao pioneer.

                                                                      So far I've roasted the chickpea flour but haven't had a chance to get to the rest of the pantry staples, but I'll definitely get some done tomorrow.

                                                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                        I have not made tua nao, but I have made natto (Japanese fermented soybeans). The way you describe the look of the beans sounds like they are fermenting. Here are some pictures of freshly made natto. http://naokomoore.com/2012/05/making-.... They do get slimy and fuzzy.

                                                                        The smell you describe is throwing me off. Fermented soy beans have a pungent smell, but not of rotting seafood (to me). I grew up eating natto, so it is a pleasant smelling funk (although my husband thinks otherwise), like the intense odor that comes from the Chinese fermented black beans.

                                                                        1. re: BigSal

                                                                          That link you posted is extremely helpful; thank you! The beans look exactly like some of the photos shown, pre-refrigeration, and that gives me hope.

                                                                          I ended up transferring the beans to a sealed container in the fridge overnight to cease the ripening stage, and now they aren't giving off as offensive an odour. Maybe the basket and the cloth were contributing to the overall unpleasantness? They could certainly use a good bleach bath about now.
                                                                          I would definitely compare the funkiness to the pungency of fish sauce or shrimp paste. I may proceed and see what happens; a sunny and windy day is in the forecast, and I bet the Mr would really appreciate if the drying occurred outdoors.

                                                                      2. Link to preCOTM Burma cooking thread "Burning for Burmese" per AllegraK:

                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/875497

                                                                        1. This weekend I made dried shrimp powder and bought a TON of shallots. I had intended to make fried shallots and shallot oil this weekend but was completely defeated by the heat. I have a busy week with some travelling so I likely won't get to Burma before the end of the week. I'll get there though!

                                                                          1. Recently I found a great article about a home cook (property rights manager Kelvin Kong) who made seven dishes for a dinner party from Burma: Rivers of Flavor. He has tips & hints, synopsis of each dish, photos, and all is enormously helpful. Thought someone might be interested...

                                                                            http://www.cravebyrandomhouse.ca/2012...

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                              Great find, Gio. And now the jerky has been added to my "to make" list.

                                                                            2. I am going to make a couple recipes from this book tomorrow night. I'm just stating that here, in black and white, so I will actually do it. New job has pretty much kept me out of the kitchen thus far this month. But Saturday night, I'm committed! Burmese dinner!

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                Good for you. Happy menu planning and cooking!

                                                                                1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                  Yeah! Hope it's going well & I look forward to reading your reports.

                                                                                  I too have yet to cook & report this month - off to a slow start. This week I plan to make up for lost time though :-)

                                                                                  1. re: geekmom

                                                                                    Thanks delys and geekmom. Dinner was a success, and I'll be posting reports soon. I have the book from the library. Without question, I'll be buying it!

                                                                                2. A friend just sent me the link to this..
                                                                                  Thanks to everyone who voted for BURMA.
                                                                                  I am happy to think that because of this vote more and more people will feel a connection to the interesting accessible food traditions of Burma and may get turned on enough to go and meet the people of Burma for themselves one day.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: naomiduguid

                                                                                    My husband and I are loving the book, Ms Duguid. Happy that you're here...

                                                                                  2. I'd like to make the shrimp and winged bean salad... after reading about the enormous virtues of winged beans:
                                                                                    http://www.nytimes.com/1982/02/23/sci...

                                                                                    Has anyone found/used them yet?

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                      I sometimes see them in the Cambodian/Laotian grocery stores in Lowell, but can't remember if there is a particular time of year when they are common. If/when I see them next I'll let you know. I've eaten them many times in SEA, but never cooked them.

                                                                                      1. re: qianning

                                                                                        So sorry I didn't see this earlier Q. How do the beans taste? I'm tempted to use haricots verts but don't know if the taste would be similar. OTOH, I have another pound of frozen shrimp so can very well wait till I locate them around the Boston/North of Boston area.

                                                                                        Tonight we're making the shrimp curry and I have all the ingredients at the ready. These are Florida Gulf wild shrimp and should be perfect.

                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                          Just got back from the Burmese Food Fair in Boston, no sign of winged beans there, but plenty of other good stuff.

                                                                                          Meanwhile, winged beans aka asparagus beans, which is what most people say they taste like, but to me a lot less assertive than asparagus and less astringent than either asparagus or spinach, but still have that, for lack of a better word, "green" flavor. Does that help?

                                                                                          Hope the shrimp curry worked out for you. Good shrimp are such a treat.

                                                                                          1. re: qianning

                                                                                            Many thanks! You always help!

                                                                                            The curry was fantastic. Report to follow tomorrow.

                                                                                    2. I was so looking forward to this month and I haven't cooked a thing yet! I spent all weekend finishing my report cards and my library copy of Burma was due Thursday. Sigh. Now I need to start thinking about getting organized for a 6-week trip in a less than three weeks. Looks like I'll be eating a lot of cereal in June--not very Burmese. At least I have scanned a few recipes that I'll hopefully have time for.

                                                                                      1. Nothing like the pungent goodness of shrimp paste to scare away those door-to-door salespeople, heh, heh. Thank you, Burma!

                                                                                        1. I've made about 7-8 recipes so far and been remiss in posting the results. In the most part, I've enjoyed everything and found the dishes have come together quickly. I haven't made anything that had the shallot oil, fried shallots, toasted chickpea flour, shrimp powder or anything with a special ingredient.

                                                                                          I have realized that I need to up all the spices and lowered the water amounts. Otherwise the flavors are too muted. And, I've played fast and loose with ginger, shallots and garlic amounts.

                                                                                          I've going to the Chinese grocery store tomorrow and plan on picking up some dried shrimp. Ay other suggestions as to what I should pick up that is absolutely necessary?

                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                            Please post your reviews when you have time, even if they are short! I always like to hear your thoughts on a dish.

                                                                                            1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                              Thanks. I'm hoping to do so next week before I get overwhelmed by the number of reports.

                                                                                              I am enjoying the book overall.

                                                                                            2. re: beetlebug

                                                                                              Nothing that you really need, although the dried shrimp are a good idea, especially if you have an eye on recipes that call for them, and if you like that flavor.

                                                                                              Also, if you've been avoiding the fried shallots for lack of time time to make them, the pre-fried shallots from the Asian grocery are a staple for us, not as good as homemade but much quicker and easier for a last minute salad/garnish etc(we use a lot of fried shallots in this house!); but if you go that route be sure to buy the good quality ones--they will have only shallots/red onions and veg oil for ingredients (run from anything with citric acid or salt or other preservative), and will be the more expensive brands--this is a case where price and quality have a direct correlation.

                                                                                              1. re: qianning

                                                                                                Thanks. Coincidentally, I was going to buy the cheat shallots anyway. Unfortunately, Ming's (in the South End) only had fried scallions and garlic.

                                                                                            3. Has everyone been able to find roasted soybeans in their local Asian market (e.g., 99 Ranch Market)?

                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: emily

                                                                                                On the weekend I was planning to roast them myself:
                                                                                                http://allrecipes.com/recipe/crispy-e...

                                                                                                Of course I have no idea it's authentic or not...

                                                                                                1. re: emily

                                                                                                  I found organic roasted soybeans (salted & unsalted) at Whole Foods - I think I saw someone's post mentioning they carried them & I was lucky enough to see them at my location. My Asian market did not have them.

                                                                                                  1. re: lesliej

                                                                                                    Thanks - I will check there.

                                                                                                    1. re: lesliej

                                                                                                      They have them at my local natural foods stores in the bulk section.

                                                                                                  2. So it's the last day of the month, and I'd like to hear what you all have to say about Burma after cooking from it the past several weeks.

                                                                                                    As for me, after the first week I knew that this book was a keeper. I found the recipes extremely accessible, and weeknight doable. I did start adjusting seasonings a bit to my own taste, but overall, the food was delicious. I've been travelling in the past couple weeks, so my participation was mostly at the beginning of the month. But this is definitely a book I'll pull out again in the future, so I'd expect the COTM threads to continue to grow.

                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                      I completely agree with your assessment. I got the book from the library, and I was so impressed with the amount of complex flavor I was able to produce in such short periods of prep and cooking time, that I immediately bought the book. I made the fermented tea leaf salad again last night, it's going into my favorites list, and I'll be a regular customer from the online Burmese product site. So many of the flavorings are adaptable to different ingredients too, the recipes have influenced our cooking this month, even when we weren't following any one specifically. I'm definitely happy this book was chosen, and I'll be returning to it in the future.

                                                                                                      1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                        My only regret is that I too have been travelling for the past two weeks and unable to participate--but I'm not about to put "Burma" to bed: we have loved these delicious, refreshing, and surprisingly easy recipes, and we'll definitely be eating many of these dishes this summer as they are perfect for the hot, humid weather. And I still have many left on my to-make list.

                                                                                                        The first time I flipped through "Burma," I found it daunting. But I was so wrong (and very happy to be so). I'd encourage anyone who enjoys these flavors and hasn't tried any of the recipes to give one or two a whirl.

                                                                                                        Agree completely, MelMM--a keeper.

                                                                                                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                          I am with you nomadchowwoman. I was away pretty much most of June (when I wasn't away, the husband was) and so I didn't do much cooking at all. It seemed silly to bother either buying the book or taking it from the library, but I have a feeling I would love it. I'll keep looking for it at the library and checking the threads, and as soon as it becomes available I will happily cook from it. Can't wait.

                                                                                                        2. re: MelMM

                                                                                                          I really enjoyed cooking from Burma and am happy to say the majority of the recipes I prepared were delicious...in fact, I hope to one day host a dinner party serving several dishes from the book. I, too, found the ease of preparation of these recipes to be a pleasant surprise - it didn't take long to get a feel for the ingredients and techniques, and the hour or two spent preparing some "pantry basics" was time well-spent as most lasted me the entire month. Great choice for June's COTM.

                                                                                                          It's now by my chair so I can spend some time reading about Naomi's travels!

                                                                                                          1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                            I agree. I've been cooking out of a library copy all month, but I've decided to buy the book. There are more recipes I'd like to try. What has swayed me in the direction of buying the book is the relative simplicity of the recipes. They are very easy to put together (as long as you have those dratted shallots!) and open to improvisation. I do find that I need to adjust the recipes somewhat -- less water, more salt and spice -- but that is OK. Concur as well that this is a good book for summer with lots of fresh, light flavors and many quick-cooking recipes that don't require heating up the kitchen too much.