Burmese Language Lesson
- Kaut-Yoe -> Paddy Straw
- Mho -> Mushroom
- Kazun Ywet -> Water Spinach
- Kyaw -> Frying or Stir-frying (v.), fried or stir-fried food (n.)
Today, you will be introduced to an ideal vegetable side dish of Burmese people, which features not one, but two vegetables in a leading role, straw mushroom and water spinach. If there is a contest for a match of vegetables made in heaven, this combo will be crowned a king. Both stars might be little new to many of your culinary worlds; so let me shed some light on each of them.
This easy-to-grow, semi-aquatic and perennial plant, which bears many names such as kangkong, morning glory, swamp cabbage and etc., is an ultimate resource for affordable but healthy and delicious meals. High nutrient density, healing and detoxifying properties and primarily, dirt-cheap price of water spinach entice Burmese housewives to make a dish out of it everyday. Sustaining many Burmese lives, water spinach can be regarded as the staple vegetable of Burma.
Its crispy hollow stems, tender shoot tips, soft and slightly slippery green leaves together, contrastingly give water spinach a great versatility. Taking advantage of such versatility, countless recipes, both savory and sweet, can be easily created.
In the home of paddy fields, it is not surprising that paddy straw mushrooms rank first in consumption, followed by oyster mushrooms and magic mushrooms, as they are widely cultivated and available all season. Although highly perishable, Burmese recipes use only fresh mushrooms. Canned or dried straw mushrooms are not common here. Soft, delicate and chewy, straw mushrooms are packed with nutrients and trapped with flavors and aroma.
Discovery of Mho-Kazun-Ywet-Kyaw
The discovery of this amazing perfect pair was not accidental and purely intentional. On one hand, they are myths (and facts) concerning mushroom poisoning. (Fact: straw mushrooms are completely safe but people usually mistaken a species of toxic wild mushrooms called dead caps for straw mushrooms.) On the other hand, water spinach are convinced to carry antidotal properties, in addition to many health benefits of green leafy vegetables. These beliefs led to adding water spinach to counteract the poison and alleviate any harmful effects of toxins and poisons, whenever you are cooking mushroom.
Serving: 3-4 people
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
- 1 lb. of Straw Mushroom
- ½ lb. of Water Spinach
- 6 Garlic Cloves
- 4 Green Chilies
- 3 Dry Red Chilies
- 1 medium Tomatoes
- 1 small Green Bell pepper
- 6-7 Shrimps
- Mixture of Fish sauce and Oyster sauce, 1 tbsp. each
- 3 tbsp. of Peanut Oil
We are using three different types of chili peppers in this recipe. Green chilies for the spiciness and aroma. Dry red chili peppers for color and more heat. Bell peppers for more aroma.
Also added are few shrimps, the very natural MSG, to enhance the flavors.
The way to get the best results is to keep the heat high while stir-frying as this unveils an earthiness from the mushroom and freshness of water spinach.
Omit the shrimps and substitute the fish sauce and oyster sauce with soy sauce for vegetarian option.
Cleaning the mushroom
- Deep rinsing is essential when fresh mushrooms are used. You will find debris of straws on the mushrooms from the straw beds on which they are grown.
- Halve the mushrooms as this helps them absorb all the flavors while cooking and makes the dish look more aesthetically pleasing.
Plucking the water spinach
- Cut off the hard bottom part of the water spinach stems. About 2 to 3 inches.
- (Here, you do not want to throw the hard stems away. Soak them in water or stick them in a moist soil. Few days later, roots will be formed at nodes and few more days later, new leaves will come out.)
- Separate the remaining into three separate parts: young tender shoots, leaves and stems. Each part requires slightly different cooking time.
Preparing other ingredients
- Roughly crush the garlic with the side of the knife.
- Take a sharp knife to slit the green chilly vertically, keeping one side intact. Not a fan of spiciness? Skip this part and put the chilies as a whole.
- Soak the dry red chili peppers in lukewarm water for 5 minutes and pound them till a paste is formed.
- Chop up the tomato and green bell pepper into bite-size pieces.
- Take the heads off of the shrimps, discard the shells and devein.
- Time to put your wok to work.
- Heat the wok on medium high heat and add peanut oil. Once the oil is really hot, add garlic and green chilies and cook stirring, until fragrant.
- Add pounded red chili peppers, stir continuously until the scent of roasting chilies arises. (You might sneeze one or two times. Bless you!) Add a teaspoon of water to prevent the chilies from getting burnt.
- Put the shrimps first, then mushrooms and stir-fry for 2 minutes, cranking up the heat to high. Mushrooms will begin to sizzle and release their
- Add the green peppers and continue cooking for a minute.
- At this point, add the fish sauce and oyster sauce mixture and still well to coat up all the ingredients.
- Throw in the water spinach stems. Stir-fry for 1 minute.
- Add the water spinach leaves in and keep stirring for another 30 seconds.
- Finally, put the young shoots along with the chopped tomatoes.
- Gently toss and stir-fry everything together for 30 seconds.
Stir-fries are best warm and fresh so plate and serve immediately with rice.