About Myanmar Tofu Salad
Myanmar Tofu Salad – A Different Kind of Tofu Experience
If you’re like me, you might think it’s a wheel of cheese. On my first visit to Myanmar, back in 2011, I was puzzled for a number of days, as to what exactly was that wiggly round of yellow matter, that people were eating on the streets?
To cure my curiosity, I sat down at a street food stall and ordered it (or pointed to it).
The answer: chickpea tofu
Don’t let the word tofu turn you off, this is not a chunk of soft flavorless matter, or a tofurkey dog, THIS is a much different kind of tofu experience. Tohu thoke (or I’ll probably spell it as tofu thoke) is one of the many staples of Yangon street food like lahpet thoke (လက်ဖက်သုတ်), or Myanmar lahphet thoke salad, an original Shan tofu salad.
Shoulder pole street food stands
You’ll normally find Myanmar tofu salad at small portable street food stalls, the ones that are setup from shoulder poles carrying baskets on either end (I think there should be a better English name for this).
This allows the vendors to drop their stand, and set up shop and be ready to serve customers in the busyness of Yangon in minutes.
As soon as I ordered, he got to work mixing the first salad. A small pile of the block of tofu had already been chopped up into one inch bite sized pieces.
I’m not totally sure everything he mixed in, but there was a handful of finely shaved kaffir lime leaves, cilantro, and a seasoning of some type of oil (perhaps peanut oil).
Finally, a good handful of deep fried shallots were sprinkled on top.
Chickpea tofu is not really anything like soybean tofu. It’s much more creamy, and almost like pudding in texture, just one notch firmer. The flavor is actually quite neutral, just like a chickpea or bean would taste, and so it takes on whatever it’s combined with.
I loved the creamy softness of the tofu, and the light dressing, plus the wonderfully fragrant shallots. For spice, I garnished with alternating bites of fresh chilies (available at most stalls), and raw cloves of garlic.
Just like all street food in Yangon, the atmosphere, the chaos, and the overall action and elements of surprise, all play a part in the enjoyment of dining. This is the reason I think eating is always one of the top attractions when you visit a city like Yangon.
Where can I eat Burmese tofu salad?
You’ll find nearly identical style street food stands scattered throughout Yangon, just pull up a stool, make an order, and eat. But if you want to go where I did, this is just north of Sule Pagoda, on the Southeast Corner of Sule and Anawratha road, along what’s sort of an access road. There are a number of vendors throughout the day on this street.
Price – 350 Kyats per salad (that’s just $0.35)
by Mark Wiens
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