Get To Know The Beauty Of Burmese Noodles

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Mohinga, which is considered Myanmar's unofficial national dish.[/caption]
The savory mounti, served with thinly-sliced shallots, is one of Austin Bush's favorites.[/caption]

Austin Bush is an American travel and food photographer based in Bangkok, Thailand — and the guy serious food writers (and travelers with food writing friends) call when they are in town. His work has appeared in Saveur, Travel + Leisure and many other publications. He's also responsible for the photos in the forthcoming Pok Pok cookbook, collaborating with Andy Ricker on one of the coolest books being released this fall.

Over the weekend Bush took to his blog to write a guide detailing the most common Burmese noodles. After reading the intro, it got me — a relatively learned Asian noodle head — thinking a bit. Could I name a single Burmese noodle dish? Are Burmese noodles sweet? Are they served with broth? Do I know anything about the food there?

After a half a century of exclusion from world politics and global economic support, Burma (now called Myanmar) "opened up" in 2011 and now allows foreign tourists to travel there with relative ease — as in, the country has installed a few ATMs and obtaining visas doesn't require funneling money directly to a repressive military junta.

As Canadian journalist and cookbook author Naomi Duguid describes: "The flavor staples are shallots, turmeric, limes and freshly squeezed lime juice, roasted chopped peanuts, fresh greens, chiles (though not in punchy, hot quantities usually), fish sauce, shrimp paste, shallot oil, chile oil, fresh herbs, and more. She would know, as the author of the award-winning Burma: Rivers Of Flavor. The country rests at the intersection of China, India and Southeast Asia, with means the culinary traditions are a diverse as they come.

But back to the noodles. Bush describes them as almost completely lacking sugar and lacking elaborate herb garnishes and direct contact with broth. So, essentially, very different than the noodles of Thailand and Vietnam respectively.

Here he writes about Mohinga, Myanmar's unofficial national dish:

The dish consists of fine, round rice noodles – similar to the Thai khanom jeen — served in a thick, somewhat herbal fish- and shallot-based broth, often supplemented with the crunchy pith of the banana tree. Optional toppings include sliced hard-boiled egg or akyaw, deep-fried crispy veggies and/or disks of lentil batter.

You can read Bush's full report here. Or, better yet, book a trip.

Craving Asian noodles now? Here are 8 recipes on Food Republic: