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A beautiful book but the recipes were disapointing
on January 20, 2013
After seeing Burma: Rivers of Flavor pop up on review lists everywhere I thought I'd give it a try. I am a huge fan of Burmese food and a lover of Burma Superstar in San Francisco (though, I'm aware that might not be exactly authentic). So when I saw this book I immediately bought it. I spent a good hour reading and perusing the recipes and planning my menu. I settled on: smoky napa stir fry, silky shan soup shan village khaut swe and fried sesame bananas for desert.
First I will say that the only thing I would even consider making again would be the khaut swe- a tomato, turmeric and pork stew of sorts served over noodles. But even this was disappointing and the method of cooking the pork which is basically braising, leaves it tough and flavorless. Also, the recipe said it served 4-6, but my boyfriend and I easily finished all of it and this was only part of the meal. Many of the proportions I found to be wrong.
The silky shan soup, which I hoped might be a delicious, chickpea flavored soup was inedible. The recipe calls for mixing plain chickpea flour and water -that's it. Of course you add noodles, vegetables and seasonings on top but the soup base itself could be described as nothing better than gruel. I tried to save it by adding all kinds of spiced but ended up throwing the whole thing away.
The smoky napa cabbage stir fry seemed simple enough: some garlic, ginger, chilies and cabbage. But the recipe tells you to pour in a bunch of water and fish sauce which made it soggy and had only faint hints of the smokiness the recipe promised.
The fried bananas could only be saved by heaping massive amounts of powdered sugar and lime on top. The recipe called for a full cup of sesame seeds which would have made the batter a solid paste- so I only used a quarter of what it called for. The use of tapioca and rice flour seemed unnecessary because the result was just bad-chalky and only barely enjoyable.
All in all, the book is interesting. The author does a great job explaining the different cultures and influences of surrounding nations. She describes the recent military coup and its downfall - all of that is interesting. But the recipes themselves seem like they were jotted down in a notebook by the author on her travels. And instead of testing the recipes - she simply adapted them from memory. I really wanted to love this book but it was a huge disappointment.