this salad contrasts crunchy peanuts with vibrant fresh tomatoes. Use the best quality tomatoes you can buy to get the most out of this dish. It is best made fresh during the day and can be served as a side dish with a curry or simply with some rice.
For 4 people as a side dish
unsalted roasted peanuts 50g
tomatoes 300 g, at room temperature, quartered
green finger chili ½, pitted (optional) and finely chopped
dried shrimp 1 tbsp (optional)
raw shallots 1-2, peeled and thinly sliced
garlic oil 3-5 tablespoons (see below)
lime juice from
fish sauce 2 tsp (omit vegetarian and season with salt)
coriander leaves a small hand
gram flour 1 tsp, toasted
crispy fried shallots to garnish (store bought or see below), to garnish
For the hsi jet/kyethun phyu kyaw – garlic oil/crispy garlic (for 1 large pot)
garlic 3 bulbs, cloves peeled
oil- 400ml (vegetable, sunflower or peanut)
turmeric powder 1 teaspoon
For the kyethun hsi/kyethun ni kyaw – shallot oil/crispy fried shallots (for 1 large pot)
shallots 18-20, peeled
oil- 400ml (vegetable, sunflower or peanut)
For the pe hmont hlaw – toasted gram flour
gram/besan (chickpea) flour 200g
For the garlic oil, separate, peel and slice the garlic cloves as thinly and evenly as possible. Make yourself comfortable, maybe sit in front of a mindless television, because it will take time. It can also burn your fingers a bit, so you can wear disposable gloves for this. Line a plate with a few sheets of kitchen paper.
Heat the oil in a deep, medium saucepan or wok over medium heat. Do not leave the pan unattended. Have a heatproof strainer or strainer ready to fish out the garlic pieces. Test the readiness of the oil by placing a piece of garlic in it; if it sizzles and rises to the surface in a few seconds, the oil is ready and you can add all the garlic at once by turning the heat to low.
Keep a close eye on the garlic, turning the pieces regularly in the oil, being careful not to splash hot oil on yourself. Turn the heat down if the garlic starts to color quickly – sometimes we take the pan off the heat for a minute or so when it does this. Once the garlic pieces are golden brown and crispy, remove the pan from the heat.
Scoop out the crispy garlic pieces with a heat-resistant sieve or strainer and place them on the plate lined with kitchen paper to stop them cooking. It doesn’t matter if there are still a few bits left in the oil.
Stir the turmeric into the oil and let it cool. Once cooled, pour the garlic oil into a clean, sealable bottle. After that, you can put the saved crispy garlic pieces back in the oil (they will stay crispy) or keep them separately to garnish other dishes.
For the fried shallots and oil, cut the shallots in half lengthwise and then very thinly into half moons, trying to keep the slices as even as possible (otherwise they will not cook evenly and you will end up with burnt or soggy pieces). Line a plate with a few sheets of kitchen paper.
Heat the oil in a deep, medium saucepan or wok over medium heat. Do not leave the pan unattended. Have a heatproof strainer or strainer ready to fish out the shallots. Test the readiness of the oil by placing a piece of shallot in it; if it hisses and rises to the surface within a few seconds, the oil is ready.
Add a large handful of shallots to the hot oil. Keep a close eye on it and periodically stir the pieces gently, being careful not to splash the hot oil on yourself. Turn the heat down if they color quickly – sometimes we take the pan off the heat for a minute or so when it does this. Shallots take longer to become crispy than garlic, so they may need to be sautéed for a few minutes. You also need to do this in batches – trust us.
Once the shallots are golden brown and crispy, quickly scoop them out of the oil using a heatproof strainer or strainer and place on the plate lined with kitchen paper. Continue to fry the shallots in handful batches until they are all cooked through, then place on the paper towel as before. It doesn’t matter if there are still a few bits left in the oil at the end.
Let the oil cool, then pour into a clean, sealable jar; store the crispy shallots in an airtight container to use as a garnish in many recipes.
Shallot oil can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 month. Loose crispy shallots will keep for about a week in an airtight container in a cool place (after that they will lose their crunch).
For the toasted gram flour, sift the gram flour into a bowl as it tends to be quite lumpy. Heat a clean, dry frying pan over medium heat and add the flour. Stir around so it’s evenly distributed and keep stirring intermittently to ensure even toasting. It starts to smell a bit nutty and turns a light brown after about 5 minutes. It may clump a bit, which is normal; you can always re-sieve it if it’s particularly lumpy. Place in a bowl and let cool before storing in an airtight container. It should stay good for 3 months.
For the salad, crush the peanuts with a pestle and mortar or pulse a few times in a food processor (to the size of the nubs you get in store-bought crunchy peanut butter).
Place tomatoes, chilli, crushed peanuts and remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix. Ideally, do this with clean hands to fully combine all the ingredients. Taste and season, adding more fish sauce or chilli if needed.
Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the crispy shallots.
From The Rangoon Sisters by Amy Chung & Emily Chung (Ebury)£22)