Yes, it’s Cookbook Book Club time again – my once a month “cooking from the same cookbook” dinner with Jan from Family Bites and Jenn from Chocolate Shavings. We’ve already had dinner with Marcella, dinner with Nigella, dinner with Ottolenghi and dinner with Maria Speck, and this month we chose to have dinner with Naomi Duguid, cooking dinner from her beautiful cookbook, Burma River of Flavors.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet Naomi on a number of occasions – at various food events around town, when I took her wonderful “Foods that Changed the World” course and she’s also come to work with Les Petits Chefs, teaching them how to make three Burmese salads.
For our Cookbook Book Club, Burma River of Flavors is by far the most exotic book we’ve worked from – and for me, with the dessert course this month, it was probably the most challenging. I am typically not a fan of Asian desserts and I cannot recall eating one single dessert when we travelled to Burma 2 years ago. In any case, in the spirit of our monthly meetings, the three of us totally embraced the challenge and ended up with a fabulous meal that, even though we never reveal what we are making in advance, was very cohesive.
On arrival at Jan’s house, she asked me “What did you drink in Burma?” to which I replied “Beer, mostly.” She’d suspected as much but had gone with a “ginger” theme, offering refreshing Moscow Mules (vodka, ginger beer – the real stuff – and lime juice) and I have to say that while it was not part of my drinks repertoire either in Burma or before that evening, it’s going to be added to my “summer drinks” list. So refreshing.
Jenn brought the appetiser – a super tasty eggplant dip topped with the ubiquitous fried shallots. Typically this would be one of the “small plates” that make up the Burmese rice meal (read a little bit about that here) but we enjoyed it with small rounds of thinly-sliced baguette.
For the main, Jan totally outdid herself, offering a wonderful (and easy!) shrimp “curry” (a Burmese curry is not what you think it might be – fewer spices than, say, an Indian curry, and, in fact, no “curry powder” to speak of!) with a simple rice dish and a Napa cabbage “refresher”.
Again, this tasted totally authentic – Jan was worried that the curry on its own might be too bland but the food in Burma is never eaten one dish at a time – rather you savour a little bit of all sorts of different plates at once. With the salad and the rice, this tasted amazing. Simple flavours but ones that really work well together. Bonus? All the dishes are relatively simple to make, so this shrimp curry will be on my “weeknight dinner” rotation from now on!
For dessert I chose the sticky rice cake with ginger and toasted coconut. It made a HUGE sized “cake”..
This was interesting but I don’t know I would make again. It was a wet rice cake as opposed to a crunchy one and tasted a lot like rice pudding just in a more solid form. I’m not a fan of rice pudding generally so the fact that I even made this deserves some credit, no? In any case, it was a little bit heavy to finish off a meal. I can see a tiny slice might work with a strong coffee in the morning but after a meal it was a little too much. The flavours were lovely – subtle ginger and coconut and I liked the crunch from the toasted coconut. Anyway – it’s all about trying different things, this cookbook book club, right?
Stay tuned – in May we’re having #dinnerwithJamieOliver (not really but we’re cooking from his recipes!)
Let’s get kids excited about food on May 16th 2014 – Food Revolution Day! Check out all the details for how you can participate here.
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