Breakfast with Hsan Myint Aung: mohinga (Burmese lemongrass and fish soup) – recipe | Food

It’s evident that Hsan Myint Aung builds his life round meals. He has run Solar’s Burmese Kitchen with his spouse, Erlinda, in Blacktown for near 10 years, however even on his days off, he’s out visiting markets and grocers, “all the time taking a look at all of the substances”.

“Even once I’m not working … That’s why I do know all of the outlets,” he says, rattling off an inventory of suburbs whose grocery geography he’s acquainted with.

He enjoys each delicacies, however has fond reminiscences of Hainanese rooster rice in Singapore. “I spent about 10 years in Singapore, once I was younger,” he says. “I used to be engaged on the ships; that was about 40 years in the past. I can let you know, I beloved to eat rooster rice.”

And once I ship him a photograph of the rice vermicelli I’ve purchased to make mohinga, he texts me again a photograph of the model he recommends, Golden Swallow; he tells me the one I purchased, Wai Wai, is healthier for frying.

Mohinga, a lemongrass and fish soup, is about as strong as breakfast will get. It’s thickened with toasted floor rice, has a whopping 300ml of fish sauce, and is served with rice vermicelli, crispy fried shallots, eggs, lime, chilli, coriander and, at Solar’s Burmese Kitchen, a yellow break up pea cracker.

Hsan Myint Aung, owner of Sun’s Burmese Kitchen in the Sydney suburb of Blacktown.
Hsan Myint Aung, proprietor of Solar’s Burmese Kitchen within the Sydney suburb of Blacktown. {Photograph}: Blake Sharp-Wiggins/The Guardian

Historically, the soup would additionally embody finely sliced banana stem, used as a vegetable in components of south and south-east Asia; no one sells it right here, however Hsan grows his personal at dwelling.

Have You Eaten, a map of Sydney in cuisines, lists Solar’s Burmese Kitchen as Sydney’s solely Burmese restaurant. The Burman Kitchen in Surry Hills would as soon as have been the second, nevertheless it closed completely in February 2020.

“Truly, it was very onerous to open the restaurant,” Hsan Myint Aung tells me.

“Thirty years in the past, once I got here, there was nothing, no [Burmese] outlets – however I’d cook dinner on the church, for the group, for household buddies and issues like that. After that they [said], you higher open a restaurant!

“Burmese meals is … all people didn’t learn about it. That was the true important factor – [it was] a really huge problem. I needed to actually wrestle on the time.”

How about now? He laughs. “Lots of people know now!”

A chef makes mohinga at Sun’s Burmese Kitchen.
A chef makes mohinga at Solar’s Burmese Kitchen. {Photograph}: Blake Sharp-Wiggins/The Guardian

Given how unusual Burmese meals nonetheless is in Australia, he takes specific delight in how faithfully his restaurant cleaves to the delicacies; dishes like danbauk, which he says is sort of a Burmese biryani, and kyay-o, a noodle soup with pork offal, are signature menu gadgets.

“It’s actually genuine, you recognize; I by no means modified it.”

Today, Solar’s has a devoted following. Situated in what was an LGA of concern throughout Sydney’s lockdown, the restaurant stopped providing even takeaway on the finish of July. When their Fb web page introduced they had been reopening in early October, the feedback had been stuffed with overjoyed clients eager to fulfill their cravings once more.

After almost 10 years, what lies forward for the restaurant?

“I’m drained already!” he says, laughing. “I’m happening 70 – I’m not a child!”

Joking complaints apart, although, he says his son and spouse need to proceed operating the store – an assurance that may undoubtedly maintain his regulars rejoicing.

Hsan Myint Aung’s mohinga

Prep 30 min
Prepare dinner 1hr 20 min
Serves 4

Mohinga toppings, clockwise from left: fried shallots, lime wedges and coriander sprigs, chilli flakes, boiled egg
Mohinga toppings, clockwise from left: fried shallots, lime wedges and coriander sprigs, chilli flakes, boiled egg {Photograph}: Blake Sharp-Wiggins/The Guardian

For the fish
300g catfish (out there frozen at Vietnamese grocers; alternatively, use yellowtail)
300ml fish sauce
200ml water
1 tsp floor turmeric
1 stalk lemongrass,
finely chopped

For the soup
85g rice
¼ cup vegetable oil
5 brown onions
, finely sliced
2 stalks of lemongrass, finely chopped
2cm ginger, grated or finely minced
6 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
1 ½ tsp paprika
1 ½ tsp floor turmeric
1 litre + 500ml water

To serve
400g rice vermicelli
2 onerous boiled eggs
Crispy fried shallots or garlic
Chilli flakes or powder
1 bunch recent coriander
1 lime
, quartered into wedges

Hsan Myint Aung’s mohinga
Hsan Myint Aung’s mohinga {Photograph}: Blake Sharp-Wiggins/The Guardian

Mix the fish sauce, 200ml water, one teaspoon of turmeric and one finely chopped stalk of lemongrass in a small saucepan alongside with the catfish. Deliver to a boil over excessive warmth, then cook dinner for quarter-hour. Take away the saucepan from warmth, take the catfish out of its cooking liquid and enable it to chill. Don’t discard the cooking liquid; it will likely be used later to season the soup.

As soon as the catfish is cool sufficient to deal with, take away the pores and skin, then rigorously raise the meat off the bones. Be thorough with this step; the catfish will break down nearly fully when it’s cooked within the soup, so make sure that to not depart any small bones in.

Toast rice in a dry pan over low warmth, holding it transferring to make sure the rice toasts evenly. As soon as it’s a gentle golden color, about 10 minutes, switch it out of the recent pan right into a bowl. When it’s cool sufficient to deal with, grind the rice into powder in a clear espresso or spice grinder, or in a high-powered blender. It’s best to find yourself with about 75g of floor rice (toasting removes a couple of grams of moisture).

Warmth vegetable oil in a big frying pan over medium warmth, then add two of the finely sliced brown onions, two finely chopped stalks of lemongrass, the ginger, garlic, paprika and turmeric. Sauté for 2 to a few minutes till aromatic, then add the cooked fish and flip warmth to low. Hold cooking the combination over low warmth, breaking the items of catfish up with a spatula as you go. After about quarter-hour, the combination ought to have deepened in color barely because the onions and garlic caramelise.

Deliver one litre of water to a boil in a big saucepan. Combine the bottom rice with remaining 500ml of chilly water, then, whereas stirring, slowly pour the bottom rice slurry into the boiling water; this can guarantee there are not any lumps.

Add the cooked catfish combination, then add the remaining finely sliced onion and carry the pot to a boil; as soon as it does, flip warmth to low and simmer for half-hour (or longer – Hsan Myint Aung says the longer it cooks, the sweeter the onion can be). Season the soup with 4 to 5 tablespoons of the leftover fish sauce used to cook dinner the catfish; alter to style.

To serve, cook dinner rice vermicelli in boiling water in response to directions; divide the vermicelli amongst 4 bowls, then ladle soup excessive. Serve topped with fried shallots or garlic, halved boiled eggs, chilli flakes or powder, coriander and a wedge of lime.

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