Tasting Yangon and a recipe for Burmese Pork Curry with Mango Salad

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Burmese Pork Curry with Mango Salad recipe

The food of Myanmar is a little more oily and a little less spicy than what we’re used to in Southeast Asia, and it is is not quite as diverse as foodie neighbours Thailand, China and India, but influences from all three mean there is an eclectic variety of flavour packed food. And while undertaking our #escapers17 adventures we want to try it all.

But, and there is always one of those, our time in Yangon is short and our schedule too tight to pack in all of the amazing things there are to do in Yangon, especially as Raffles and I decide to devote much of our time to face stuffing. We’re nothing if not resourceful and the Yangon streets we are racing about are heaving with makeshift sidewalk stalls selling all kinds of interesting, and mostly unidentifiable, foods. And we are quite prepared to risk indigestion by tasting as many of them as we can… on the run.

Snacks on the streets in Yangon

Like most of South East Asia, the food of Myanmar is based around a delicate balance of sweet, sour and salty notes and a slavish devotion to fish sauce and funky fermented ngapi (fish or shrimp paste).

Street food Myanmar

Fermentation is quite the thing in Myanmar. Even tea leaves are not immune as, in this country, they are not only downed in a nice cuppa, but fermented and eaten in salad. National favourite Laphet Thoke (pickled tea leaf salad) is mouth-watering, the fermented tea leaves combined with chopped cabbage, dried shrimp, fish sauce, lime, dried garlic and roasted nuts, tomato and chilli to irresistible effect.

Prepping the ingredients for Pickled Tea Leaf Salad Laphet Thoke

We are lucky enough to learn how to recreate the dish during a cooking class challenge at Inle Lake’s The Shan Restaurant and the recipe is one I am keen to share as soon as I track down the best place to buy pickled tea leaves in Australia.

Indeed, there is not much the people of Myanmar won’t attempt to turn into a salad (thoke). But these are not salads as Raffles and I know them (or regularly attempt to dodge). These are crunchy and refreshing with thinly sliced vegetables and loads of piquant green mango tossed in fish sauce, lime juice and topped with everything from nuts to dried prawns. And they are good.

Another extremely popular dish is Myanmar’s breakfast of champions, mohinga, a bowl of thick rice noodles in a soup made with river catfish, thickened with chickpea flour then sprinkled with deep fried fritters, which I slurp down happily every morning.

Teahouses too are a big part of everyday life in Myanmar. They are popular places for people meet to drink, eat and set the world to rights. The tea is steaming hot, milky and oh so sweet, thanks to the wads of condensed milk they dollop into it.

Burmese tea sweetened with condensed milk

While meat and seafood dishes are abundant, there are plenty of options for vegetarians with many of the street foods we spy appearing to be based around variations of cabbage and bean curd.

preparing a tasty treat of bean curd and cabbage in YanonPockets of what appears to be bean curd skin are stuffed with cabbage, vegetables, pickled something or other and nuts, and are ridiculously tasty.

Bean curd based street snacks Yangon

Another popular street snack is Mont Lin Ma Yar (husband and wife snacks), crispy rice pancake creations, which prove irresistible to both mother and son. The tiny savoury cakes are grilled as two individual halves and topped with quail eggs, scallions, or roasted chickpeas, then joined together to make little balls around the same size as Japanese Takoyaki. They are utterly addictive and we grab a bag every time we spot them.

Then there are the bugs!

Bugs on the street in Myanmar

While we’ve tried loads of them before, with varying degrees of success, Yangon’s insect offerings have Raffles gagging in the gutter.

Bugs on the street in Myanmar

But a couple of the city’s ubiquitous samosas soon sorts him out.

Samosas and spring rolls, Myanmar

Much to our excitement, curries are also extremely popular and generally served with buttery paratha flatbread. They tend to be more sour and salty than what we’ve become accustomed to in Asia, but are really quite wonderful.

Burmese Pork Curry Myanmar

Craving one of the tamarind-spiked, sour and salty curries from our adventures, Raffles and I have hit the kitchen knock up our own take on Burmese cuisine with this delicious Burmese Pork Curry with Mango Salad. Enjoy!


Disclosure: While we had to work for it, competing in and completing challenges, Raffles & I were hosted by the fabulous folk at AccorHotels, Scoot Airlines, Tiger Air and Asia Holidays during the incredible Myanmar leg of our #escapers17 adventure. However, all opinions and stuffing of faces is our own.

14 Comments on Tasting Yangon and a recipe for Burmese Pork Curry with Mango Salad

  1. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    April 18, 2017 at 5:47 pm (7 years ago)

    I’ve only had Burmese food a few times but it has been delicious. I really want to try more like this curry! 😀

      April 20, 2017 at 2:26 pm (7 years ago)

      I was pleasantly surprised by the cuisine!

  2. Anna
    April 20, 2017 at 12:30 am (7 years ago)

    I’ve never tried Burmese food but this looks so good

      April 20, 2017 at 2:26 pm (7 years ago)

      It’s an interesting cuisine Anna, we really loved it!

  3. Paula - Gone with the Wine
    April 24, 2017 at 6:11 am (7 years ago)

    Wow! That is a lot of ingredients in the recipe 🙂 but the food looks delicious. I might have to try this since I love Asian food. Those bugs however… not sure. I might try them just so I can say I have eaten some. But I might leave rest to others.

      April 24, 2017 at 8:56 am (7 years ago)

      IT looks far more complex than it is. QUIte quick to prepare, then set and forget.

  4. shayan Naveed
    April 24, 2017 at 1:43 pm (7 years ago)

    Oh wow, that curry looks soo good but we don’t pork in my family. I do sometimes if its mixed within the food. I’m gonna ask my maid to make this chicken or prawn style. Maybe beef. Thanks for sharing this.

  5. Christina
    April 26, 2017 at 5:02 pm (7 years ago)

    This looks absolutely delicious! The way you picture it even makes imagining to eat those bugs not too frightening of a thought. But I’d really really like to try the Mont Lin Ma Yar, it looks delicious!

  6. Sandy N Vyjay
    April 26, 2017 at 8:57 pm (7 years ago)

    Very interesting read, as not much is known about Myanmar cuisine. But I can literally taste and smell the flavours of India in the post 🙂 I could try some of these with a vegetarian twist tough.

  7. verushka
    April 28, 2017 at 3:02 am (7 years ago)

    That curry looks amazing.For personal reasons I do not eat pork.And do love mango but not witj savoury dishes.

  8. Chop4naija
    December 13, 2017 at 12:47 am (7 years ago)

    What a lovely food recipes site i ever come across in my entire life! And i just can’t wait to try them up asap.

  9. Visiit
    June 28, 2019 at 6:37 pm (5 years ago)

    I didn’t know that Burmese eat this kind of stuff.

  10. Wendy
    December 13, 2021 at 3:55 pm (3 years ago)

    I had a Burmese flatmate and thought i would get some wonderful curries from her. But it turned out that in Myanmar her family had been quite wealthy and had a maid, so my flatmate didn’t know how to cook! Disappointing 🙂

  11. VIV
    June 26, 2023 at 7:18 pm (1 year ago)

    born in Myanmar(Burma) many years ago Love my cooking of different food but also love the food of my homeland of long-ago
    This dish and the technique of approaching this dish is quite unique Loved it and will cook it again


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Hey, I’m Aleney! A mum, award-winning travel writer, magazine editor and gallivanting glutton. He’s Raff, the “boy” in boyeatsworld, and a fearless foodie, adventurer and eco-warrior. Along with his all-singing, all-dancing, all-adventurous sister, Sugarpuff, we’re exploring the world’s colour, culture and cuisine on a food safari for the junior set.

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