Sisters Are Doin’ It! – I don’t know about you, but Burmese food is not something I am very familiar with…until now that is: I’ve discovered a fabulous new cookbook written by Amy and Emily Chung – aka The Rangoon Sisters. These siblings are not only great cooks; run incredibly popular supper clubs (raising a great deal of money for charity in the process) but they also both happen to be doctors, working for the NHS and at the frontline this summer when their debut cookbook was launched! Born and bred in South London, with Anglo-Burmese-Chinese heritage, they grew up watching their parents cooking from a wide range of influences, getting involved and picking up skills along the way. They soon began to cook like their Mum and Grandma, seamlessly throwing in a little bit of this and a splash of that to create delicious dishes. They first visited Burma with their mother, back in 2012 and were blown away by the generosity and kindness of strangers; they were welcomed into their homes and given tea as they shared food and stories. They combined this spirit with their love of hosting and entertaining friends, to create their first supper club in East London in 2013, which quickly became the hottest culinary ticket in town, with guests travelling from far and wide to eat, talk, mix and make new friends.
So, to the book itself; it has lots of engaging and personal anecdotes, as well as talking the reader through the ingredients needed for the store cupboard, as well as obligingly providing some information as to where to buy them (most are in fact easily available from a good supermarket or online). Special, family recipes have been properly documented for us to share and enjoy together. The Rangoon Sisters is a celebration of the incredible food and flavours found throughout Burma: rich bowls of slow-cooked curry are contrasted with fresh, zingy salads, vibrant garnishes, and heaps of steaming rice. With chapters on Snacks, Salads, Curries, Rice, Noodles and Sweets, the simple recipes are perfect for a quick weekday family meal or a comforting slow cook on a weekend. With easy to follow instructions, and no specialist equipment or expensive ingredients needed, The Rangoon Sisters is ideal for anyone wanting to make tasty, simple Burmese food at home. Published by Ebury Press at £20 (hardback), it is a great introduction to this delicious cuisine. I’ve chosen a couple of recipes for you to try – not curries (you’ll need to buy the book!) but both quite straightforward and requires no exceptional technical skills. The tomato dish is perfect for those of us who have lovingly cultivated our own crop throughout the summer, and it makes a lovely starter or a side dish. And the meringue dessert: well, I couldn’t resist it, as fabulous mangoes can be available at the moment at knockdown prices from your local greengrocers. I think it would also work well with passion fruit too or instead of mango.
Khayan jin thee thoke (tomato and crunchy peanut salad) – serves 4 as a side
This salad contrasts crunchy peanuts with vibrant fresh tomatoes. Use the best-quality tomatoes you can buy to get the most out of this dish. It is best made fresh on the day, and can be served as a side with one of our curries or just simply with some rice.
50g unsalted roasted peanuts
300g tomatoes, at room temperature, quartered
½ green finger chilli, deseeded (optional) and finely sliced
1 tbsp dried shrimps (optional) 1–2 raw shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
3–5 tbsp garlic oil
Juice of ½ lime
2 tsp fish sauce (omit to make vegetarian, then season with salt)
Small handful of coriander leaves
1 tsp gram flour, toasted
Crispy fried shallots to garnish
Crush the peanuts using a pestle and mortar or pulse a few times in a food processor (to the size of the nubs you get in a shop-bought crunchy peanut butter).
Place the tomatoes, chilli, crushed peanuts and remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix. Ideally, do this with clean hands to fully combine all the ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more fish sauce or chilli if necessary. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the crispy shallots.
Thayet thee ohn thee mont (Mango Lime and Coconut Meringues) – makes 8
This is an absolutely winning combination of flavours that we have served up at several supper clubs over the years. It’s perfect for entertaining because the meringues and lime curd can be made the night before, so the dessert only needs a quick assemble just before serving. Our meringue-making method is the Delia Smith one – reliable every time.
200g mango, stoned, peeled and diced into 1cm pieces
Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2
In a clean and dry mixing bowl, whip the egg whites with an electric whisk. Start on a low speed and gradually increase the speed over the next 2–3 minutes to the highest setting until the egg whites are stiff peaks, then stop. Add half the sugar to the egg whites and whisk at high speed, then add the remaining sugar until the meringue is glossy and firm – this usually takes 2 minutes.
Line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper. Spoon four mounds of meringue onto each sheet, spaced out evenly. Using the back of a spoon, make a shallow dip in the centre of each meringue, where the topping will sit once, they’re cooked. Place the trays in the oven for 35 minutes; once that time is up, switch off the oven and leave the meringues to cool and dry in there overnight.
While the meringues are cooking, prepare the lime curd. Make a bain-marie with a heatproof bowl set over some simmering water (make sure the bowl does not touch the water, though) and add all the ingredients for the curd to the bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar and melt the butter. Making the curd requires a bit of patience, as it will take anywhere between 6 and 8 minutes to thicken: it should coat the back of a wooden spoon when it is done. We then strain it through a sieve, to get rid of the zest, and let it cool before refrigerating overnight in a covered container.
For the assembly, toast the desiccated coconut in a dry frying pan on the hob, stirring throughout – watch it carefully and don’t let it turn brown, it will only take a minute. Whip the double cream until it’s thick. Plate up the meringues, then top each one with a spoonful of cream, a dollop of lime curd, some mango pieces and finally a sprinkling of toasted coconut. Serve immediately.