Burma? Myanmar?? Given the choice, I'm a big Burma guy. The Burma Road. The dense forested mountains of Burma. I picture despots ruling from their Burmese jungle hideouts. When I think of Myanmar I sadly think of a repressive government beating down monks. But after last night's dinner, I do have something positive to ponder when it comes to thoughts of Myanmar, and that would be the next time I get to have these deliciously exotic Panthay Noodles (Panthay is the Burmese word for Chinese Muslims).
I read about this dish a couple of weeks ago on the New York Times website in an article by Elaine Louie in her "One Pot" series that appears in the Wednesday dining section. She adapted it from Manhattan caterer Irene Khin Wong whose mother in Myanmar would make it for breakfast or lunch. Khin describes it as a fusion of Indian and Chinese cuisines: "The Chinese brought the noodles, fish sauce and bok choy, and the Indians brought the curry". Very easy and rewarding, I thought it was absolutely delicious with its complex, savory flavors. With the bok choy, chicken, and noodles, it's like having all three dinner staples...vegetable, meat, starch...in one dish. Last night I doubled the recipe because I was, as seems to be my alarmingly regular state, quite hungry, and we finished it off with no problem. I see it as a great main course for a light dinner, or a really attention getting first course for an Asian dinner party.
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adapted from Irene Khin Wong
time: 30 minutes
6 tablespoons canola or other vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
7 ounces fresh Asian noodles or dried egg noodles
5 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thigh meat, cut into slices 1 1/2 inches long by 1 inch wide by 1/2-inch thick
1 medium onion, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons (about 2 cloves) minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons fish sauce
8 ounces baby bok choy, cut lengthwise into pieces 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide
1/4 cup peeled, finely slivered carrot
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
2 to 4 lemon wedges, for serving.
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon oil and a sprinkle of salt. Boil noodles until barely tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Drain, rinse thoroughly under cold water and drain again. Set aside.
2. Season chicken pieces with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; set aside. Place a medium skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons oil. Add onion, garlic and ginger, and sauté until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add chicken, curry powder, paprika, fish sauce and 2 tablespoons water. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until chicken is cooked, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and keep warm.
3. Place a large skillet over medium heat and add remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Add bok choy and sauté until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add carrots and noodles and sauté until well heated, 2 to 3 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
4. To serve, divide noodle mixture between two warm plates. Top each portion with half the chicken mixture. Garnish with cilantro and lemon wedges.
Yield: 2 servings.