|an army of shallots|
It’s my favorite time of the year at the bookstore. The fall influx of cookbooks is about to begin, and that means it’s also time for a new Artisan Cookbook Challenge! This year, a few Indie booksellers from stores around the country were sent advance copies of Naomi Duguid’s new book Burma:Rivers of Flavor and instructions to test the recipes on our friends, and I was one of those lucky booksellers. Duguid's book Flatbreads & Flavors has long been a staple in my kitchen, so I was thrilled to participate.
When I heard about the challenge, I was immediately intrigued. I knew almost nothing about Burma. In fact, when I mentioned the book, my coworker and I discovered that neither of us had a solid grasp on the country’s geography. She thought it was coastal and similar to Thailand; I pictured snow-capped mountains. Through the power of the internet we learned that the country has 1,200 miles of continuous coastline and a high point of 19,295 feet in the Himalayan foothills - it turned out that we were both right. Hooray for learning!
A few days later I had the book in hand. I immediately delved into the introductory chapters and began making some of the Burma Basics: red chile oil, shallot oil, fried shallots, toasted chickpea flour, and dried shrimp powder. I knocked out a batch of each in an hour or so one afternoon and stashed them in glass jars for later use.
|red chile, tomatillo, and tomato chutneys|
Duguid includes so many delicious-sounding recipes that I had a hard time narrowing down my menu. I decided on about a dozen recipes that I wanted to try and invited a group of 15 willing tasters to my little apartment on a Sunday night.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that I would not need to buy any exotic dried spices. The flavors come primarily from fresh ingredients: shallots, garlic, lime, ginger, chiles, and cilantro. I only needed tumeric, Sichuan peppercorns, fish sauce, shrimp paste, and dried shrimp powder to round things out.
|serving up the pounded beef with herbs|
Since I would be at work until 5pm on the night of the party, I started my preparations on Friday night by making three condiments that would hold happily for several days: fresh red chile chutney, sour-plum chutney with chile oil (substituting tomatillos for the plums as suggested), and standout tomato chutney. The three sauces were pleasantly diverse in flavor and texture and were nestled in the fridge in about an hour.
|green mango salad|
|Mandalay carrot salad|
|shan tofu salad|
|tamarind-sweet potato curry|