London Food Month
We were very excited to see the London Food Month programme being handed out last week. The icing on the cake was seeing our mugs in Grace Dent‘s selection of LFM moments in the magazine. In fact on first glance through the magazine we had missed it and Thai chef, Sirichai from Singburi (favourite Thai restaurant in London) was the first to point it out to us. Super flattered and big thanks to Grace! To top that, the tickets for the event on 11th June have already sold out, though you can add yourself to the waiting list for any cancellations. UPDATE: Sadly, our 15th July date in Forest Gate has also sold out!
Recently someone asked for a recipe for lahpet thoke. We don’t really have one as such (mix, taste, add something, mix, taste..!) but it made us think about lahpet in general. Lahpet refers to fermented green tea leaves, which are unique to Burma and may be made into a salad, Lahpet Thoke. It came into our lives fairly late on and intermittently. Mum hadn’t been back to Burma for over 40 years and she didn’t find it easy to get a supply, not having relatives going back and forth. When she did live in Burma, she remembers having it as a snack with tea (i.e. drinking tea!) and it would arrive wrapped up in a banana leaf tied with twine in a large sausage shape (“not these small plastic packets!”). Then, when we visited Burma with her in 2012, suddenly it was plentiful and we couldn’t get enough of it.
One of the best lahpet thoke experiences I have had was in the Medical Action Myanmar clinic in Shwe Pyi Thar township in 2014. Every Tuesday afternoon the clinic would close for staff meetings and food would be shared between all the clinicians and admin staff. Sometimes it would be noodles, or a giant vat of mohinga. On this occasion, bowls of lahpet thoke were passed around the room. I helped the cook-come-housekeeper thinly slice white cabbage and tomatoes, then we added sliced green chillis, lime juice, dried shrimps, deep fried crunchy beans, garlic, peanuts and sesame, a splash of fish sauce and the lahpet itself. Green, oily, mucky looking stuff but delicious. Not a huge list of ingredients really, bearing in mind the beans/garlic/peanuts/sesame come ready made in bags. And here, not forgetting, one last ingredient, the feared but wonderful monosodium glutamate. Hands in, to mix everything up.
Lahpet Thoke prep, Shwe Pyi Thar
Best Lahpet Thoke I’ve eaten.
Four big bowls passed around the 25ish of us in the meeting. Shared spoons, which I soon got used to not being squeamish about (not once did I get ill in the 6 months we were living there). Delicious, full of different textures, moreish with the necessary caffeine hit to get through meetings and power through. Here are some more photos from Instagram of lahpet thoke that we have made. I think my favourite is the one in the tupperware (I’m eating directly out of that, naturally). It doesn’t necessarily look pretty, but when we have served it at our dinners, guests have loved it.
Lahpet Thoke – not a recipe, a summary:
Groundnut oil (or Mum uses garlic oil)
Monosodium glutamate (optional I guess)
Crunchy deep fried bean/garlic/sesame/peanut mix
White cabbage thinly sliced
Tomato thinly sliced