Sunday, November 08, 2009

80 Plates: I Left My Heart in Myanmar

So yesterday, Melissa was coming over, and Michael and I were preparing the shopping list when I pulled out my Essential Asian cookbook and decided we should do another country while we had company—my guests are my guinea pigs!  I looked through the book, skipping the countries in Asia we’d already done and hit on the section on Burma, which is officially known as the Union of Myanmar (and has been since 1989).  To me that sounds like some kind of cult.  I don’t know diddlysquat about Myanmar, so I looked it up and it turns out that it is the largest nation by geographical area in Southeast Asia.  It is bordered by China, Laos, Thailand, Bangladesh, and India.  Coming from a country that borders on only 2 other countries, I find that kind of fascinating.  It also sounds like and looks from the pictures I’ve seen like a beautiful country.  So it has that going for it, which is nice.

Anyway, I paged through the cookbook and found a recipe for Burmese chicken and it sounded like the kind of thing we would all enjoy, so I decided to take a crack at it.  In all, it was an extremely easy recipe to make.  I substituted boneless, skinless chicken breasts for a whole chicken cut up, since none of us is keen on skin and bones.  The preparation is very, very simple.

I heated up some oil and chopped up some onions.  Unfortunately, I had let the oil get a little bit hot while I was chopping so there was quite a sizzle when the onions hit the pot!  I didn’t want them to brown, so I stirred the heck out of them and reduced the heat and in a minute or so, they were quiet and just kind of cooking away.

In the meantime, I began measuring out spices while Melissa attempted to keep Leah from screaming in my ear.  This dish took A LOT of spices, and they are all in the bowl below, but in order, they are bay  leaves, turmeric, chili powder, cardamom (nearly as damned expensive as the stupid saffron!), cumin, coriander, ground and fresh ginger, cinnamon, lemon grass, and garlic.  Seriously, I managed to find a jar of cardamom for $11.50 instead of $15.00 and I need A QUARTER TEASPOON!  Fortunately, next weekend I am doing 80 Plates: African Feast, and I expect to need at least some cardamom.  Otherwise, it’s going in the Ebay pile so I can recoup my losses. hahaha

Once the onions were nice and soft, I threw in all the spices and it made a beautiful brownish paste almost.  The smell was intoxicating, to die for, I kid you not. 

Then all I did was put in the chicken (I cut each breast into 2 smaller pieces), stir it around to coat it, top it with a bit of chicken broth and let it cook for 45 minutes.  Voila!  Burmese chicken!

I served it with (what else?) mashed potatoes, curry chili rice (from a mix from the Asian foods section at my local grocery store), and peas.  Melissa is already attempting to figure out how to modify the recipe to make it in the deep covered baker from Pampered Chef that she and I each own, and I think that is a stroke of genius.  I think it would lend itself to that very well and cook up in probably half the time. 

I am looking forward to turning the leftovers into a fabulous chicken salad.  I really don’t care for reheated chicken very much, to me it tastes kind of funny, but I love curry chicken salad, and while this doesn’t have any curry in it, it has a similar sensibility about it and I think will lend itself well to sandwiches the rest of the week!

Next Saturday, we will be doing 80 Plates: African Feast, as I mentioned.  Looking at the world map I did a few weeks ago, I noted that Africa remains mostly blank.  This is in large part because when you research African cooking, you get a kind of overview, it is hard to find recipes from any one specific country.  However, I persevered and I will be cooking dishes from Angola, Somalia, Chad, Ivory Coast, Algeria, Egypt, and South Africa.  It will be appetizers and desserts for a small crowd of friends and family.  If you are interested in attending, drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do!

0 pearl(s) of wisdom: