Kachin Pounded Beef with Herbs [Photograph: Richard Jung]

She doesn't mention it in the recipe headnote, but Naomi Duguid's Kachin Pounded Beef with Herbs in her Burma must be a kissing cousin to Laos and Thailand's laab. Instead of hand-chopped meat that is tossed with spices, however, this Burmese version is pounded in a mortar and pestle, grinding the aromatics into gently simmered beef. The result is a meltingly tender bowl of fragrant beef with a texture akin to rillettes but with the taste of Southeast Asia.

Why I picked this recipe: I'm a huge fan of laab, so trying out this Burmese take was an obvious choice.

What worked: Once again, the balance of spice and aromatics here were top-notch. The numbing Sichuan peppercorns were particularly nice with the tender, mellow beef and grassy cilantro.

What didn't: Since I don't have a mortar and pestle, I had a bit of a hard time pounding the beef straight out of the pot. Things were much easier once I pulsed it a few times in my food processor. (If you have neither a food processor nor a mortar and pestle, I'd suggest chopping the cooked beef a bit before stirring in the flavor paste).

Suggested Tweaks: I found myself drizzling extra shallot oil (from the Banana Flower salad) over the beef as I ate the leftovers. A little bit of sesame oil would also be welcome. I'd also follow Duguid's suggestion of serving the beef after an overnight rest for the deepest flavor.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Burma: Rivers of Flavor to give away.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

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