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.
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.
To learn more, read “Souped Up.”
Recipe adapted from 'Burma Superstar,' by Desmond Tan and Kate Leahy (Ten Speed Press)
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes, plus cooling time
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes, plus cooling time
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
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
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 350º. 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 OK. 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.