This salad was my first invention upon settling into our new home in Yangon. It also symbolizes my initiation into shopping Myanmar style (that is to say, open air market). Before going out to shop, I sat down with my vegetable picture chart and my fluent husband and made a list of the things I’d need, sounding out the name of each ingredient, writing it down, and practicing it a few times.
Emboldened by my new arsenal of vocabulary, we strode out to the market, basket in hand. Without Jim next to me while I attempted to make purchases, this salad likely would’ve never come to fruition. Prices are rarely listed for most things; being able to ask the price and comprehend the response is rather crucial to the pantry-stocking process. I can tackle posing questions, but when it comes to digesting the reply and finding the right amount in my wallet, I frequently experience mental constipation. Add to that the fact that all proper and polite transactions take place using only the right hand (my poor preferred left hand hates being left out to dry), and shopping starts to feel like solving a riddle.
As the photos attest, the shopping trip turned out all right. (Props to my husband, Jim, without whom I surely would’ve lost a great deal of weight due to my lack of language ability.) Without further ado, here is the inaugural kitchen concoction from my first Myanmar kitchen.
Notes on ingredients: I’ve modified some of the listed ingredients for the average North American consumer. The limes I was working with were the diameter of a quarter, and cost about .10 each; if I were buying limes at a US grocery store, I’d use 2 or 3 to taste. I had to use shallots, as there are no other varieties of onion available here; a sweet red onion would be my preference if I were making this in my American kitchen. I can only pine after feta cheese or queso blanco, so it goes without saying that they weren’t present for the advent of this salad. But I would heartily applaud any cook who chose to add one of them. (Please—do it, and think of me in this cheese-less land.)
Yau Pu Tho
4 ears of corn (or about 5 cups frozen corn. thawed)
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
1 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
4 roma tomatoes, diced
Vegetable oil or butter
1 medium sized red or sweet onion, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 eggs (or more, depending on your preference)
juice of 2-3 limes (or 5-6 tiny limes)
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp smoked paprika
Feta cheese or queso blanco
Boil the ears of corn until tender; cool. When cool enough to handle, slice off the kernels.
While corn is cooling, combine green onions, cilantro and roma tomatoes (saving some of the cilantro for garnish, if desired). Add zest from one lime and the juice of all the limes. Add salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, saute red onion in butter until just softened. Add garlic and corn kernels and continue to cook over medium-low heat. Make a little basin in the sea of corn and onion and add your eggs. Scramble them into the corn-onion mixture until they reach your preferred scrambled egg consistency, then remove from heat and place in a bowl. Add the cilantro/tomato mixture to the corn and combine. Add more salt and pepper, if needed.
If you prefer a warm salad, top with avocado slices, chopped cilantro, crumbled cheese and smoked paprika and serve immediately.
However, the flavors of this salad are best after giving it some time to rest. For a cold salad, chill for at least an hour before eating, then top with the remaining ingredients and serve. If you are inclined to having a little more spice, a few pinches of dried chili pepper does quite nicely.