Sandra Scott Travels: ‘All food in Myanmar is fast food’

Come and get it !

Come and get it !

Last week I asked:  How do you make Myanmar Ginger Salad?

See the recipe below.

One of the things that I love about Asian food is that the preparation is so easy.

salad ingredients
Salad ingredients

I once mentioned to a Myanmar friend, “I like the fact that there are no fast-food restaurants in Myanmar.”

The reply was, “All food in Myanmar is fast food.”

Indeed, with many Myanmar recipes, once you have the ingredients, creating the dish is quick.

In addition, simple alterations to many recipes can create equally delicious dishes.

Such is the case with Myanmar Ginger Salad.

Chef Wai Myo Ham and our guide, Yan Myo Aung
Chef Wai Myo Ham and our guide, Yan Myo Aung

One of the onboard activities on the Pandaw cruise John and I took in Myanmar on the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River from Mandalay to Bagan was a cooking demonstration.

During the week, there were several onboard cultural presentations, such as how to apply thanaka (the pale yellow makeup commonly worn in Myanmar), how to wear a longyi (the wraparound garment worn by men and women).

There were also traditional Myanmar dance presentations and another night a Myanmar puppet show.

Buying some beans
Buying some beans

Every day there were shore trips to temples, pagodas, handicraft shops, villages and other fascinating places.

Near Amarapura, one excursion was a rowboat ride on Taungthaman Lake for a close up look at the picturesque U Bein Bridge thought to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world.

One of the crew brought along sunset cocktails.

How’s that for service?

Sunset cocktail time
Sunset cocktail time

We sat in the rowboat sipping our cocktails while watching the sun set.


One of the shore trips was to a market in Pakokku, where Yan Myo Aung, our guide, pointed out all the ingredients needed to make Green Tea Leaf Salad and Ginger Salad.

Many of the items, like ginger, were already julienned and ready to use.

My favorite salad was the Ginger Salad, which is usually served as an appetizer or salad in the United States.

But in Myanmar it is often a dessert or palate cleanser.

In a cooking demonstration on board, Chef Wai Myo Ham showed how to prepare a Ginger Salad, with Mr. Yan translating.

Mr. Yan related, “The simplicity of the recipe defines Myanmar cuisine, which is a blend of textures and flavors utilizing available items from the market or locally farmed.”

He also noted, “Pickling and salting of vegetables is widespread due to the lack of refrigeration.”

There was one awkward moment during the lesson.

When the salad was ready to serve, Mr. Yan asked our group of 10, “Who is the oldest? The oldest gets served first.”

Following a few minutes of absolute silence one woman in our group said, “You never ask a lady how old she is.”

Enjoying the sunset
Enjoying the sunset

To avoid an embarrassing situation, I volunteered that I was the oldest.

Who knows?

Maybe I was.

Myanmar Ginger Salad (Jinn Thoke)

½ cup thinly sliced or julienned fresh or pickled ginger

½ cup thinly sliced crispy fried garlic

½ cup skinless roasted peanuts

½ cup fried chickpeas (or 1 tbsp chickpea powder)

10 whole dried shrimp (optional)

¼ cup toasted sesame seeds

½ cup fried butter beans

3 tbsp peanut oil

½ cup julienned cabbage

½ cup julienned tomatoes

Salt and pepper to taste


Minced chilies or chili sauce (optional)

Toss all ingredients in a bowl.

Come and get it !
Come and get it !

Serve with a side dish of chilies for those who want to add some spice.

N.B.: To make Green Tea Leaf Salad (Lah Phet Thoke), substitute ½ cup pickled tea leaf for the ginger and eliminate the chickpeas.

Trivia Tease™: What are ten things to do in Louisville?

Look for the answer next week.

Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!

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