#123: Burma/Myanmar – Mohinga

Back when I traveled to Thailand in 2012, as part of one of our tours, we essentially “popped in” to Myanmar to a floating boat bazaar and to hear a bit more about some of curiosities of that region, including fermented fish. I’ve heard that it is a beautiful country and worth the stop (probably for more than the hour or two I spent there) if you are in that area of Asia.

In an effort to incorporate a bit for fish into my diet (especially through this project) this fish stew, Mohinga, jumped out at me. It had relatively few ingredients (though I had to add yet another type of flour to my pantry) and seemed like a fairly straightforward recipe. But I did find that some of the ingredients were hard to find on short notice (I didn’t pre-plan like usual) so I had to make some substitutions. Did those substitutions result in something that I just didn’t enjoy? Or was I just not feeling a fish stew on a Monday. It’s more likely the latter, but as I’ve said before, I post about the good and the bad with this project.

First, the substitutions I made:

  1. I used vegetable stock as opposed to fish stock (where does one easily find fish stock if they don’t make it themselves?)
  2. I couldn’t find the specific fish that the recipe called for (haddock or pollock), so I used another firm white fish – seabream.
  3. I had read that a good substitute for banana stem was water chestnuts. I forgot how much I dislike water chestnuts until I started to eat the stew. Maybe it’s a texture thing but I was brought back to earlier tastes of stir fries in the late 1990s and thinking this was just…ugh. Gross.

In the end, this dish didn’t hit any marks for me (and as for my fiancee, he most definitely is not a fan of lemongrass). One thing that I did fine interesting and is a good technique for thickening a stew was the inclusion of ground, toasted rice as well as the chickpea flour. This is a trick I may use again, though I may need to watch the heat on this as it thickened into a paste VERY quickly and I think a slightly looser stew would have been preferable.

I used a recipe from a Lonely Planet Cookbook, but this one is pretty similar: https://fearlesseating.net/mohinga-best-noodle-soup-ever/

Overall Level of Effort: 1

Skill Level: Beginner

Would Make it Again? No.

Additional Notes: In theory I should have loved this dish given the spices that went into it. So maybe it was the fish, or maybe I just couldn’t get past my hatred of water chestnuts. In either case, neither of us were fans so this will not be coming back around again.

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