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The Rosi Recipes

We’re home! And we have a new member of the extended family. Meet Rosi, our darling niece. She loves to eat and burp and lots of other things—she’ll fit right into this crowd. Now, anyone out there with a 2-month-old knows the difficulty of the dinner hour. So I’ve decided to cook dinner once a week for Rosi and her parents (Rosi gets it indirectly, through the breast). Not only does this lighten the load a little for Mom and Dad, it gives me the perfect excuse to peruse a mountain of recipes I picked up in Asia this time around—and all of those cookbooks I never cracked last summer.

Well, then. Welcome to The Rosi Recipes, a new feature on Rambling Spoon (and a new category). For the foreseeable future, you can check here weekly for new dinner ideas. I’ll be experimenting with many of these meals for the first time, so you’ll get the recipes plus my notes on what went right, what went wrong and how the dishes could be different next time.

Let’s get on with it:

I chose a few recipes from my new Burmese cookbooks for the first Rosi meal. For starters, chicken and potatoes from Cooking with Love Myanmar Style by Nan San San Aye. This lovely little paperback was a gift from one of my students—someone who truly knows my heart. The book is filled with as many stories from women in the kitchen as recipes to match them. The author, of Shan heritage, started the Adipati (Adapati) restaurants in Yangon and along the highway to Mandalay. She writes in the introduction about the time she fell ill and had to rest in bed for a month. “My husband, a poet, brought a notebook and pen to my bed and said to me, ‘Cook in this.’ So I started to jot down all the dishes I longed to prepare and my husband took my scribbles, cleaned them up a bit and sent them off to various magazines.” Thus, the beginnings of her cookbook.

I also made tomato and shrimp paste dip and water greens with dried shrimp powder from Cook and Entertain the Burmese Way by Mi Mi Khaing. Here, we have everything one needs to know about Burmese kitchen customs and eating etiquette.

Below follow the recipes as written. My notes and discoveries are in italics:

Chicken and potatoes
Adapted from Cooking with Love Myanmar Style

1 small chicken (I substituted 5 drumsticks)
5 dry red chiles (I used chile de arbol)
3 onions (I suspect she’s using smaller Burmese onions. I used 2 1/2 large yellows but I think the recipe came out a little too heavy on the onion)
2 cloves garlic (I used 3)
10 potatoes (12 small reds)
1/3 cup oil
a little salt
a little turmeric
a little fish sauce

Chop the chicken and wash it well, drain, then knead with salt, turmeric, fish sauce and let it marinate for a while (I ended up taking the meat off the bone and saving the bones for chicken stock. This made for a curry heavier on potatoes than meat, but the story in the cookbook reflects on the author’s attempts at “stretching” one small chicken by adding lots of potatoes in order to make enough curry for four).

Pound red chiles, onions and garlic using a mortar and pestle. Heat the oil and fry the pounded mixture and stir. When fragrant, add chicken and stir. When oil sizzles (I didn’t really see a clear sizzle) add the potatoes and enough water to cover. Close the lid and simmer. After about 10 minutes, when boiling, test to see if chicken and potatoes are tender enough. Then taste. Add more fish sauce if necessary. Remove from heat and serve.

Tomato and shrimp paste dip
Adapted from Cook and Entertain the Burmese Way

1/2 chopped onion
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp or less shrimp paste
1/3 cup oil
1-2 tsp chile powder (I used a tiny pinch of Assam chile)
large pinch turmeric
4 green chiles (I omitted these because Mom doesn’t eat too much spicy food while breast-feeding)
salt to taste
1 small bunch cilantro leaves

Chop onion and garlic finely. Skin and chop tomatoes (I parboiled the tomatoes to remove the skins). Soak shrimp paste in 1/2 cup water.

Heat oil then add onion, garlic and chile with turmeric. Fry until fragrant. Add chopped tomato, stir, cover and simmer until well cooked.

Add shrimp paste liquid and whole green chiles (if using). Continue cooking until water is absorbed. Add salt if necessary. Chop cilantro leaves and sprinkle on top. Serve.

This reminded me very much of a tomato dish we’ve had repeatedly in the Shan regions of northern Thailand, where it is served with fresh raw vegetables and herbs for dipping.

Water greens with dried shrimp powder
Adapted from Cook and Entertain the Burmese Way

5 cups sprigged water greens—Kazun, Ipomoea aquatica (I substituted green kale)
1 small onion
2 T oil
2 T shrimp powder (I ground my own using packaged Malaysian dried shrimp, found in the refrigerated section of my local Asian market)
2 T soy sauce (I used wheat-free tamari for a gluten-free recipe, as all three of these are)
1 tsp finely pounded garlic
salt to taste

Tear the greens and remove any woody stems or veins. Wash and keep greens in water. If stems are edible, keep them separate from leaves. Slice onion.

Heat oil and fry onion until clear. Add shrimp powder and before it burns, add green stems with the water that dribbles from them as you place them in the pan. Add leaves and soy sauce. Toss lightly and cook covered for two minutes.

Add pounded garlic, toss lightly again, remove from heat and serve.

This dish tastes very shrimpy. Cut the amount if you aren’t fond of such flavors.


9 replies on “The Rosi Recipes”

Enjoy we did! Rosi and Tom and I that is.
A tasty, if somewhat interrupted meal (due to Rosi’s late-day cranky-ness).
Thank you

Hi there, Rosi! How nice to see you online! Did you burb appropriately for Auntie Karen?
Love, Oma

Those recipes sound (and look) delicious Karen – I’ll be cooking those too!

A friend of mine, Indian chef, told me that for the Chicken and potatoes dish, if you put the less water, the taste better in the end. At this point you’d need to stir it all the time to prevent sticky with the pot. I am sure the dish will be really delicious.

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