Containing over 80 recipes, food writer MiMi Aye’s new book, Mandalay: Recipes & Tales from a Burmese Kitchen, details Burma’s rich history and culture, plus the ingredients and techniques that make Burmese food a triumph of balance in both flavour and texture.
British-born to Burmese parents, the author weaves recipes with stories and recollections of her travels around Burma, reflecting on the importance of food to her family, ultimately presenting an accessible guide to the national cuisine still little known in the UK, influenced by the cuisines of neighbouring India, Thailand and China. In addition to the recipes, separated into chapters, Mandalay also features a helpful menu planner themed by occasion and diet.
Also known as ngar kyaw chet, this fried fish curry recipe is simple to follow at home, using readily available ingredients, ready to eat in under an hour.
“This dish is usually made with fish ‘steaks’ aka cutlets, but it is just as good with fillets or whole fish. The type of fish doesn’t really matter either, as the luscious, spicy sauce is the thing, so it works equally well with, say, cod or salmon.” – MiMi Aye.
For the fish
2tbsp plain flour
1tsp ground turmeric
1/4tsp MSG or 1/2tbsp chicken or vegetable bouillon
1 whole sea bream or sea bass, or 4 basa or catfish slices (sold frozen in Asian supermarkets)
120ml groundnut oil or other neutral-tasting oil, plus an extra 2tbsp
For the sauce
4 medium onions, sliced thinly
1/3 standard tin of chopped tomatoes (about 135g)
3 fresh tomatoes, diced
1tbsp fish sauce
1/4tsp MSG or 1tbsp chicken or vegetable bouillon
For the garnish
2 finger chillies
Handful of coriander leaves, chopped
Rice to serve
Mix the salt, flour, turmeric and MSG in a large dish, then add the fish. Turn the fish over in the seasonings, making sure it is thoroughly coated. Heat the 120ml of oil in a wok or large frying pan over a high heat until sizzling, then carefully add the fish. Fry for two to three minutes on each side. Remove the fish using a slotted spoon and set to one side on a dish.
In the same wok, heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil over a high heat and add the sauce ingredients. Fry for five minutes, tossing and stirring regularly. Turn the heat down to medium-high and continue to fry for another 10 minutes. Add the fish and the chillies, and toss gently in the sauce. Dish up on a platter, scatter the coriander leaves on top and serve with steamed rice.
Adapted from Mandalay: Recipes & Tales from a Burmese Kitchen, MiMi Aye, Bloomsbury 2019.
Header photograph: Cristian Barnett
N.B. This article was updated on 25/06/19 with correct ingredients and measurements.