This week, Janine catches up with Emily and Amy Chung AKA The Rangoon Sisters. Doctors by day, supper club hosts by night, Emily and Amy are making it their mission to put Burmese food on the culinary map. We talk all about the sisters’ food journey from learning traditional dishes with their mum and grandma to setting up their first supper club in a pub and writing a new cook book which celebrates their favourite Burmese dishes and adds a few twists of their own.
Tune in and learn all about Burmese cuisine from Emily and Amy Chung, otherwise known as The Rangoon Sisters.
A typical Burmese spread
“There’ll be lots of dishes, all set out on a table together so you’re all eating at the same time. You would have a selection of curries, so that could be meat or fish and seafood curries. You’d also have these epic Burmese salads on the table – you might have a lahpet (tea leaf salad, pictured above) or you could have an aubergine salad – you would always have lots of rice alongside that. You’ll also probably have a very clear, brothy soup, quite a simple one, so you have a little sip in between mouthfuls of curries and salads. You’ll also have a vegetable platter with lots of raw vegetables for dipping into a really rich, sour sauce. So lots of variety.”
“This is definitely something that’s unique to Burma. It’s tea leaves that have been pickled for a certain amount of time so they become intensely flavoured. It’s quite a unique flavour, slightly bitter but with lots of umami. You mix it with fresh cabbage and crunchy, crispy beans, garlic and nuts. And then add lime, chilli and garlic oil, and you can add a bit of tomato as well. So it’s kind of fresh and you get the caffeine hit from the tea. We usually have it every supper club and people are really surprised by it because, to be honest, the appearance of just the pickled tea is not necessarily the most beautiful thing because it’s gone a bit dark and mulchy. But when you combine it in the salad, it’s really delicious. After they’ve tasted it, people have said it reminds them of a pesto or cheese.”
“It’s the national dish of Burma, so you find it everywhere, all across the country. You get a bowl with rice vermicelli noodles on the bottom and then this really aromatic fish-flavoured broth poured on top. And then you have all the condiments on top, which is really important in Burmese cuisine. So you get lime for some more freshness and zingy-ness, you get chilli for the spice, and then you get this wonderfully, crispy, deep-fried pe kyaw (chana dal fritter) on top for extra texture. Then you get a boiled egg as well for creaminess. So all of that together makes this an epic bowl of deliciousness!”
Emily and Amy’s favourite Burmese ingredients
This is one of the primary flavours in Burmese food – the saltiness that comes from using dried shrimps. These are shrimps that have been dried and salted for preservation. They can be used whole but are also pounded into a powder to be used in salads, soups and dips. You can buy from most Asian supermarkets and online.
Chana dal are the insides of chickpeas when the kernel has been removed, and then split. In Burma they have a multitude of uses including being deep-fried to make pe kyaw (crispy crackers) for mohinga, as well as being made into dahl.
Made from finely ground rice, this gluten-free flour has a wide range of uses across the whole of Asia, from making noodles, dosas and hoppers to being used as a thickener. We use it in most of our batter recipes as it provides a crisp and light texture.
Listen to the full episode to hear more.
Emily and Amy Chung are sisters, doctors and home cooks who started their sell-out supper club in 2013. On episode 210 they talk about Burmese cooking and writing their first book, The Rangoon Sisters (£20, Ebury Press).