Steamed whole fish makes for a virtuously effortless dish with instant presentation points, especially when topped with a psychedelic melange of ginger, chiles, and herbs as is the River Fish Celebration in Naomi Duguid's Burma. The whole snapper (or trout) is coated with a warming and floral paste of ginger, galangal, garlic, and lime before being tossed in a light broth spicy with chiles, cilantro, and even more ginger and garlic.
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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.
At once sweet, tangy, earthy, and nutty, Susan Feniger's interpretation of a Burmese digestive snack in her "Street Food" is truly a knockout. Her recipe combines a blend of melons--watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew--with a potent mix of young ginger, sesame, and coconut. Next, the salad is then bulked up with blanched peanuts and strangely perfect green lentils and then dressed with a bit of sugar, soy sauce, and lime juice. It sounds like a crazy combination, but it works.
"Poured over a bed of noodles, it's just as soothing but far more exciting than your average chicken noodle soup." [Photographs: Chichi Wang] Call it Myanmar; call it Burma. Nomenclature aside, relatively little is known about the cuisine of a...