Burmese Breakfast Stew Recipe

In their new cookbook, the masters at San Francisco hot spot Burma Superstar pay tribute to mohinga — Myanmar's national dish and your next Asian noodle soup obsession. Containing all the characteristics that define Burmese cuisine—funky, crunchy, savory—in one bowl, it's no wonder it's such a popular dish.

Though lemongrass, ginger and garlic pack a punch, this stew isn't too spicy, and it's ideal for breakfast, the time of day when most Burmese eat it. The sunny hard-boiled egg doesn't hurt either.

The cooking liquid is seasoned with fish sauce and thickened with toasted and ground rice powder, which helps the broth cling to the silky, thin rice noodles. Add a few drops of freshly squeezed lime juice and herbaceous cilantro, and you'll see why this dish is a national treasure.

Recipe adapted from 'Burma Superstar,' by Desmond Tan and Kate Leahy (Ten Speed Press)

Burmese Breakfast Stew Recipe
4.6 from 72 ratings
This comforting stew is loaded with lemongrass, ginger, garlic, catfish, turmeric and fish sauce, and then thickened with toasted rice powder.
Prep Time
Cook Time
bowl of Burmese breakfast stew
Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • For the ground toasted rice
  • ½ cup uncooked jasmine rice
  • For the broth
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons freshly ground white pepper
  • 5 dry bay leaves
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, peeled, bruised with the back of a knife and cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 (4-inch) piece ginger, thickly sliced crosswise
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 6 (2½ pounds) catfish fillets, skinned and pin bones removed
  • For the soup
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, finely minced
  • ¼ cup garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 red onions, peeled and diced into ½-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • For serving
  • 10 ounces fine round rice noodles
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro, divided
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced in half
  • 2 limes, cut into quarters
  • ½ medium (6 ounces) red onion, thinly sliced
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lay out the uncooked rice evenly on a sheet pan and toast in the oven until the rice is golden brown, 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Allow the toasted rice to cool to room temperature then grind to a powder in a spice grinder. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, make the broth: In a 4-quart stockpot, add the water, black and white peppercorns, bay leaves, lemongrass and ginger, and season lightly with salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Carefully lower the fish fillets into the pot. The fish may not be covered completely with water, but that's okay. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook the fish gently for 15 minutes. Using tongs and a slotted spoon, carefully lift the fish out of the broth and reserve for later.
  4. Strain the broth, rinse the pot and pour the broth back into the pot. Heat over medium heat and bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered rice and a ladleful of broth until no lumps remain. Stir the mixture into the broth and bring to a simmer until it barely thickens.
  5. Meanwhile, make the soup: In a wok or large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the lemongrass, garlic and ginger, and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the cooked fish, paprika and turmeric, and mash into a paste using the back of a spoon, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the contents into the broth and bring to a simmer. Add the red onions and fish sauce, and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and keep hot until ready to serve.
  6. Meanwhile, cook the noodles: Bring a separate pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse under cool water. Shake off any excess water and divide the noodles among 4 bowls. Ladle the soup over the noodles and top each bowl with cilantro, a hard-boiled egg, lime wedges and thinly sliced red onion. Then serve.
Rate this recipe