I remember running home after playing and asking Mum for a little money, and we sat together sharing these wonderful fresh noodles and everything was perfect.
These noodles are a classic old-school Burmese street food – they take me straight back to my childhood in Rangoon, to happy times. My first clear memory of them is playing with my sister during Thadingyut, one of the festivals. Thadingyut is such a wonderful time, with lights and candles, and we’d just play and laugh together into the night, and it was beautiful.
The street nearby was packed with little food stalls; it was so alive. It was real street food. I remember running home after playing and asking Mum for a little money, and we sat together sharing these wonderful fresh noodles and everything was perfect.
We came to Australia as refugees, and I missed those noodles so, so very much. I guess I associated them with the happier, simpler times of my childhood. I wish I’d learned how to make them when I had the chance. I had to teach myself from memory. My aunty used to make this dish, too. She didn’t actually teach me – I just watched eagerly. Lucky I remembered some of how she did it! I can now make them taste like I remember, and now I make them for my children.
It’s such a simple dish, but it tastes like it must be complicated. It’s amazing how all those simple ingredients come together to make something so satisfying. That’s the magic of cooking.
I also make them for the “soup kitchen” at Parliament on King. Every Saturday we make and donate over 100 free meals to people experiencing homelessness and anyone in need. I just hope making and sharing these noodles makes people happy – that would be lovely.
I hope you love them too.
200g rice vermicelli noodles
2 medium-sized potatoes
3 cloves garlic
6 tablespoon light flavoured oil (rice bran oil, canola oil)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Small handful of finely chopped coriander
50g fried shallots
1 teaspoon vegetable powder
Salt to taste
A small handful of finely sliced cucumber, finely sliced fish cake or fried yellow split pea crisps (you can buy these from a Burmese grocery)
Boil the rice vermicelli as instructed on the package. Drain, and run under cold water to stop the noodles from over-cooking. Set aside.
Boil the potatoes until soft. Peel and roughly mash with a pinch of salt. Set aside.
To prepare the garlic oil, finely and evenly slice the garlic. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. The oil is ready when you put in a piece of garlic and it sizzles. Add in all the garlic and turn heat to medium-low. Keep a close eye on the garlic as it burns easily. Keep turning the garlic until it’s golden and crisp. Take off the heat and mix in turmeric and paprika.
Place all the ingredients – except for the garnish – in a large bowl and mix well, trying not to squeeze the noodles as they are delicate and break easily.
Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with cucumber, fish cake or yellow split pea crisps.
ASAMA KHAN IS THE HEAD BURMESE CHEF AT PARLIAMENT ON KING, A SOCIAL ENTERPRISE CAFE IN NEWTOWN, SYDNEY, WHICH WORKS WITH ASYLUM SEEKERS, REFUGEES AND RECENT ARRIVALS TO AUSTRALIA: PARLIAMENTONKING.COM.
Published in ed#681