“Kya Zhan Athoke” — Burmese Glass Noodle Salad
I decided to try a recipe from the Motherland 🇲🇲 called “Kya Zhan Athoke”. An “Athoke” is a Burmese Salad — but unlike typical western salads that consist of greens, some form of acid and some form of fat, burmese salads are so much more than that. You can find almost anything in a burmese salad; the only consistent thing seems to be that they are made by hand and at room temperature (i.e. no cooking).
There are many types of Athoke and you can find a list of them here (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_thoke). A “Kya Zhan” Athoke (“Ky” in Burmese is pronounced like the English “Ch”) is a salad made with Glass Noodles or Cellophane Noodles.
In Malaysia, Glass Noodles are are known as “Sohun” and available at most grocery shops and supermarkets. It should not be confused with “Bihun” or Rice Vermicelli — Sohun is made from starch, whereas Bihun is made from rice.
What I enjoy about Kya Zan Athoke is the explosion of contrasting flavours. You have the smoothness of the noodles, the heat from the chilli oil, and even flavours like saltiness and sourness are each provided by two different ingredients, creating variations in the taste of each mouthful.
My mum has made “Kya Zhan Athoke” many times, but since we are once again under Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) and I had to make this on my own, I was guided by a YouTube Video from SS&P which I recommend watching.
I could understand a few Burmese key words but was mostly guided by the onscreen English labels and eye-balled the rest. Therefore my quantities are more the Malaysian style of “agak-agak”, i.e. here or there. But with this kind of food you often end up tweaking the result by adding more of a certain ingredient until yoo get it to taste exactly as you want.
There are quite a number of ingredients to prepare. Actually, since there is no real cooking involved, almost the entire recipe is prep work.
- Sohun Glass Noodle
- I used a whole packet and I had a lot leftover for just one person. Soak in hot water for about 10 minutes , stirring occasionally. Sohun tends to stick together, so drain away the water just before you mix the ingredients together.
- https://mygroser.com/en/product/Potato–15Kg) [https://tinyurl.com/y275dd6q
- One large potato or two medium size ones. Peel them, then chop them into small cubes (smaller than in my picture, mine was a bit too big) and place into boiling water, together with a teaspoon of salt to season. Boil for about 10 minutes or until soft, then drain the water.
- Chilli Oil
- For this, place two tablespoons of chilli flakes (https://eshop.tesco.com.my/groceries/en-GB/products/7002631245 or blend your own from dried chillies [https://tinyurl.com/y275dd6q]) into a bowl. Heat up a few tablespoons of oil in a pan, then pour into the bowl. Stir to infuse the oil.
- Green Chilli
- I think monkey chilies (https://mygroser.com/en/product/Green-Chili-Padi–100g) would be better here, but I only had larger green chillies. Chop into thin slices.
- Peel and chop into thin slivers, the thinner the better.
- Dried shrimp
- Pounded. I prepared too much; you probably will need a lot less than my in my photo. The dried shrimp from Myanmar is often smoked and not very salty, whereas the Malaysian one I used is quite salty, so it may help to rinse it before pounding.
- Roasted Belacan (shrimp paste)
- I used a slice from a large block, which I grilled. I found it too strong and concentrated as it was hard to mix evenly. Next time i think I will just sprinkle some powdered belacan (https://shopee.com.my/SERBUK-BELACAN-CAMPURAN-SHRIMP-POWDER-30GRAM–i.82837763.4342051199) instead, or leave it out completely.
- Coriander / Daun Ketumbar / Cilantro
- Chop leaves finely. I find bits of stem are fine too in this dish.
- Peanut Powder
- I took about 3 tablespoons of large peanuts and placed them into my air fryer at 200C for a few minutes. This made the skin easy to flake off by just rolling the peanuts between my fingers. The nut inside was pounded into smaller pieces.
- Tamarind (asam Jawa) liquid
- I scooped out two tablespoons of asam jawa paste (https://mygroser.com/en/product/Penguin-Asam-Jawa-200g), and soaked it in a few tablespoons of water. Remove the seeds once they are loosened.
- Juice from Freshly Squeezed Lime
- Fish Sauce
- Chicken Seasoning Powder
- According to my mum this is not commonly used in Myanmar, I think SS&P included it to get some MSG into the dish. Probably can leave out if your dried shrimp is already salty.
- While there were no eggs in SS&P’s recipe, I think sliced boiled eggs would make a great addition.
Into a large mixing bowl, layer the ingredients, starting with the sohun and potatoes; then the garlic, pounded dry shrimp , pounded peanuts, coriander, belachan, chilli oil, chicken powder, 2½ tbsp tamarind juice, 1½ tbsp fish sauce, green chillies, lime juice (I ended up using 2 limes).
Then use your hands (which is a requirement for Burmese Lethoke !) and mix the ingredients well. If you’re preparing this dish for many, it is better to use plastic gloves, but since I was just doing it for myself, I got the full sensory experience with bare hands.
Taste the result … and add more ingredients to get the right balance you desire.
The final result …
Serve on a plate or bowl, ensuring each serving has a good mix of ingredients. I just ended up eating it directly from the mixing bowl and finished the whole lot!
Originally posted on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/shahada/posts/10158079952528178