Salad recipes are plentiful here, and “one of the best entry pointsinto Burmese cuisine,” advises Duguid. It’s not difficult to seewhy with long bean salad with roasted peanuts, Chinese kale saladwith pork cracklings, an “intensely green spinach and tomato saladwith peanuts,” and a “punchy-crunchy” cabbage salad with ginger . Among those with more unusual ingredients are one using bananaflowers (“like artichokes, tightly layered leaves with an enticingastringent flavor”) and a Burmese tea-leaf salad. The chapters on Burmese soups (spicy bean thread soup), noodles(Mandalay noodles with chicken curry; egg noodles with pork incoconut sauce), rice dishes (Inle Lake rice with garlic oil andboiled potatoes; peanut and rice porridge), vegetables(tamarind-pumpkin curry) and sweets (sticky-rice sweet buns withcoconut)? We could go on for pages. But we keep circling back to that very last recipe in the book,fried banana fritters in a sesame seed batter.
Not only for thesnacking potential, but as it demonstrates one of the aspects ofDuguid’s cookbooks that we’ve long admired. She isn’t merelyoffering up a culture’s recipes, she wants us to understand our oil(Is it hot enough? Is it too hot?) the way a Burmese cook does. Andin the postscript, she still makes sure we all get a little “cook’streat” when the hard frying work is finished. Fried Sesame Seed Bananas From: Burma by Naomi Duguid Makes: 24; 6 to 8 servings Note: If you like spice, Duguid suggests dusting these with chilepowder, or serving them with tart-sweet mango or lime sorbet.”They’re good for dessert, but almost better as a snack.” 1 cup rice flour cup tapioca flour 2 tablespoons sugar teaspoon salt cup water 1 cup sesame seeds 6 bananas or 12 small tropical bananas Peanut oil for deep-frying 3 limes, cut into wedges, or sorbet or ice cream for serving(optional) 1. Combine the flours, sugar, and salt in a bowl.
Slowly add thewater, stirring to make a smooth, thick batter. Stir in the sesameseeds. Set aside for 30 minutes. 2. Peel the bananas.
If using large bananas, cut crosswise in half.Cut the pieces or the small bananas lengthwise in half (in eithercase, you will now have 24 pieces). Set aside. 3. Put out a slotted spoon or a spider by your stovetop along withone or two plates. Set a deep-fryer, stable wok or wide heavy potover medium heat.
Add 2 inches of oil, raise the heat to high, andheat until the oil reaches 360 degrees F. Use a thermometer tocheck the temperature, or drop a dollop of batter into the oil: Ifit sinks slowly to the bottom and then rises to the surface, theoil is at temperature. If it bobs right up without sinking ordarkens immediately, the oil is too hot — lower the heat slightly;if it doesn’t rise to the surface, the oil is not yet hot enough. 4.
Stir in the batter, then drag 1 piece of banana through thebatter and slide it carefully into the hot oil. Repeat with 2 or 3more pieces, one by one. Fry, moving the pieces around carefullyand keeping them from sticking to one another, until lightly goldenand crispy. Lift [them] out of the oil with the spider or slottedspoon, pausing to let excess oil drain off, and transfer to aplate. Repeat with the remaining bananas and batter.
Serve hot,with the lime wedges, sorbet or ice cream, if you like. Cook’s Treat: Fritters. There’s usually a little batter left over when the bananas are allfried. Stir in some unsweetened dried coconut (about 3 tablespoonsfor cup batter). Use a teaspoon to scoop up dollops of batterand slip them into the hot oil.
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