About Myanmar Lahpet Thoke Salad
In most of the world, mention the word “tea”, and it’s immediately recognized as a beverage. In Myanmar however, mention tea, and it can be associated with either a drink, or a food.
Along with the ever-present dish of mohinga, Tofu Salad, lahpet thoke (လက္ဖက္သုပ္), or Myanmar lahphet thoke salad, is one of the most well known and popular dishes throughout the country.
Among the mixture in the dish, tea leaves, which are preserved by pickling and are slightly fermented, are the most fundamental ingredient.
History of tea
Tea is a hugely popular beverage around the world, but the origins of the plant are traced back to the area of northern Myanmar and southern China, including the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, bordering Myanmar.
Tea has been a major part of the culture in Myanmar for a very long time – I’m not sure exactly how long, but I do know tea is highly important throughout Myanmar. Myanmar is in fact one of the few, if only countries in the world, that has a tradition of both eating and drinking tea.
Where to eat lahpet thoke (လက္ဖက္သုပ္)?
I’m not fully sure about other parts of Myanmar, but in Yangon, if you’re looking to eat some lahpet thoke (လက္ဖက္သုပ္ Burmese tea salad), there are two different places to find it.
Number one is at a sit down restaurant. It’s a very typical Myanmar dish, and can usually be found at nearly all Burmese restaurants – places like Feel Restaurant (more on this place soon).
Number two is at street food tea stalls. The indicator that you need to look for is a bunch of plastic tupperware looking tubs at the stall (like in the photo above, right side table), which is an indicator that they serve a variety of Burmese salads.
The salads served at places like this, are a little more complex, and take a few more ingredients, than the salads like tofu thoke (coming soon) that you can order from the carrying pole mobile street food carts.
For salads in Myanmar, the ingredients are usually all tossed into a metal mixing bowl, and then hand mixed.