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 on the day, and can be served as a side with a curry or just simply with some rice.
Serves 4 as a side
unsalted roasted peanuts 50g
tomatoes 300g, at room temperature, quartered
green finger chilli ½, deseeded (optional) and finely sliced
dried shrimps 1 tbsp (optional)
raw shallots 1-2, peeled and thinly sliced
garlic oil 3-5 tbsp (see below)
lime juice of ½
fish sauce 2 tsp (omit to make vegetarian, then season with salt)
coriander leaves a small handful
gram flour 1 tsp, toasted
crispy fried shallots to garnish (shop-bought or see below), to garnish
For the hsi jet/kyethun phyu kyaw – garlic oil/crispy garlic (makes 1 large jar)
garlic 3 bulbs, cloves peeled
oil 400ml (vegetable, sunflower or peanut)
turmeric powder 1 tsp
For the kyethun hsi/kyethun ni kyaw – shallot oil/crispy fried shallots (makes 1 large jar)
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 the garlic cloves, peel, and slice them as thinly and evenly as you can. Make yourself comfortable, maybe sit yourself in front of some mindless television, as it will take time. It can also make your fingers feel a bit burny, so you might want to put on disposable gloves for this. Line a plate with a few sheets of kitchen paper.
Heat the oil in a deep, medium saucepan or wok set over a medium-high heat. Do not leave the pan unattended. Have a heatproof strainer or sieve ready for fishing out the garlic pieces. Test the readiness of the oil by placing a piece of garlic in it; if it sizzles and comes to the surface within a few seconds, the oil is ready and you can add all the garlic at once, turning the heat down 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 is coloring quickly – we sometimes remove the pan from the heat completely for a minute or so if it’s doing this. Once the garlic pieces are golden brown and crisp, take the pan off the heat.
Scoop out the crispy garlic pieces using a heatproof strainer or sieve and transfer them to the plate with the kitchen paper, to stop them cooking further. It doesn’t matter if a few pieces remain in the oil.
Stir the turmeric into the oil and leave to cool. Once cool, pour the garlic oil into a clean, sealable bottle. You can then return the reserved crispy garlic pieces to the oil (they will remain crispy) or keep them separate to garnish other dishes.
For the fried shallots and oil, cut the shallots in half lengthwise, then slice very thinly into half moons, trying to keep the slices as even as possible (otherwise they won’t cook evenly and you will end up with either burnt or soggy bits ). Line a plate with a few sheets of kitchen paper.
Heat the oil in a deep, medium saucepan or wok set over a medium-high heat. Do not leave the pan unattended. Have a heatproof strainer or sieve ready for fishing out the shallots. Test the readiness of the oil by placing a piece of shallot in it; if it sizzles and comes 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 carefully stir the pieces regularly, being careful not to splash the hot oil on yourself. Turn the heat down if they are coloring quickly – we sometimes remove the pan from the heat completely for a minute or so if it’s doing this. Shallots take longer to crisp up than garlic, probably requiring a few minutes of frying. Also you’ll need to do this in batches – trust us.
Once the shallots are golden and crisp, scoop them out quickly from the oil using a heatproof strainer or sieve and transfer to the plate with the kitchen paper. Continue frying the shallots in handful-sized batches until all are cooked, then transfer to the kitchen paper, as before. It doesn’t matter if a few pieces remain in the oil at the end.
Allow the oil to cool, then pour into a clean, sealable jar; store the crispy shallots in an airtight container to use as a garnish in lots of recipes.
Shallot oil can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 month. Separate crispy shallots can be kept in an airtight container in a cool place for about a week (after this they tend to lose their crispness).
For the toasted gram flour, sift the gram flour into a bowl, as it is usually quite lumpy. Heat a clean dry frying pan over a low-medium heat and add the flour. Stir around so it is distributed evenly and continue to stir intermittently, to ensure even toasting. It will begin to smell slightly nutty and will brown slightly after about 5 minutes. It may clump a little, which is normal; you can always re-sift it if it is particularly clumpy. Tip into a bowl and allow to cool before storing in an airtight container. It should keep well for 3 months.
For the salad, crush the peanuts using a pestle and mortar or pulse a few times in a food processor (to the size of the nubs you get in a shop-bought crunchy peanut butter).
Place the 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 adjust the seasoning, adding more fish sauce or chilli if necessary.
Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the crispy shallots.
From The Rangoon Sisters by Amy Chung & Emily Chung (Ebury£22)