How to prepare Laphet thoke (pickled tea leaf salad) & where to find places to eat this delicacy around the world, outside Burma.

This is another unusual and unique dish to Burma. I don’t know of any other place in the world where tea leaves are fermented and eaten in this way. I would be interested to hear from anyone who knows of anything similar? Here’s a short film How to Prepare Laphet taken at Governor’s Residence Hotel in Yangon where Executive Chef Karl Reyes shows me how it is prepared. And here is an earlier piece I wrote about laphet. It delves a little into the historical provenance of laphet! What is Burmese Food?

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This dish is very simple indeed and requires the cook to merely combine the ingredients to achieve a balance between salty, sour, crunchy, bitter and spicy hot (the latter optional). The challenge for you readers, is perhaps the difficulty in acquiring the main ingredients! There is an online shop Bayin Foods  which sells a small selection of well sourced Burmese products including laphet.

Where to find this delicacy outside of Burma…

You might be lucky enough to try some at a Burmese Supperclub hosted by me in Manchester (follow me on social media for details of upcoming events – my details are below)

…And I do know of places where you can sample this in London. One restaurant I first went to in 1987 (has been around for more than 30 years!), serves this dish and other authentic Burmese food. Go and seek them out, Mandalay Golden Myanmar.

Also in London there are a number of Burmese supper clubs hosted by the likes of @rangoonsisters @winciewong  @burmesefoodandbeyond, @meemalee (the latter two is the same brilliant Burmese food writer and she’s written two cookbooks, one specifically on food from Mandalay. Due out soon) – follow them on twitter to find out when they’re hosting the next event.

Very recently, a young couple has opened a modern Burmese restaurant called Cafe Mandalay in Huddersfield…..let’s hope for many more openings around the country.

Further afield across the world there are several Burmese restaurants. In particular in San Francisco there is a large concentration. Burma Superstar  has been she shining beacon and leading the way since 1992. Great cookbook too.

There’s also a food cart in Queens, New York, called Burmese Bites. Getting a great following…I can’t wait to try their famous platha when I’m next in New York.

Of all places, Chapel Hill and Carrboro in North Carolina has a large Karen community of more than 1000. There are no Burmese restaurants when I visited friends in 2014. However, it came as no surprise when our friends told us you will find sales of fresh produce commonly found in Burma such as roselle leaves (chin baung ywet) at the local farmers’ markets, grown and sold by Karens now living here. Unfortunately, when we visited the market, we got there too late to find anything. I hear there is now a grocery store called Little Burma Asian Market.

In Singapore, with its proximity to Burma, many Burmese people live, study and work here. Peninsula Plaza is known as ‘little Burma’, where you will find small stalls selling Burmese products and lots of little restaurants. A favourite is Inle Myanmar Restaurant. The fried catfish with chilli is superb. Fried whole perfectly and so crispy you can eat the whole lot, bones and all.

In Australia, my sister tells me of several places in Perth…..and in Melbourne, Sydney and in fact almost every major city city in Australia you are likely to find a family run Burmese restaurant. Again no surprise, as there is a sizeable Burmese community there.

More than likely I have not mentioned several. So let me know if you know of a place. Reach out and lets all connect! I’ll mention any next time I write…:-)

NEWS! I’m currently planning a cookery class and food tasting evening soon. If you come along you’ll be able to sample some then! – Do sign up and follow me to keep up on news about this event….

Ingredients & Method;

  • Pickled tea leaves
  • mixed fried beans, peanuts, sesame seeds
  • shredded cabbage
  • thinly sliced tomato
  • peanut/groundnut oil
  • dried shrimps (pazun chaut)
  • fish sauce
  • freshly squeezed lime juice
  • chopped green chillies (optional)

Place everything in a bowl and mix with hands. Adjust taste with fish sauce, lime juice according to preference.

VEGAN RECIPE – Omit the fish sauce and dried shrimps. Replace with salt to taste. The overall taste will not be too dissimilar.

Dah-beh! :-0

Notes: You can replace pickled tea leaves with pickled ginger and then you have Gyin Thoke.

To make pickled ginger; finely slice peeled ginger into julienne strips. Steep in lemon juice for at least 2 hours. Taste. It should taste pickled. Then it’s ready.

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