My special interview this time is with a chef who has more than 30 years of experience around the globe in the culinary industry. He started his culinary journey from Jakarta, to Germany, then Florida, New York, and now in Myanmar.
Chef Albertus Tanudjaja is one of many chefs with natural talents, skills, and passions about food by living and experiencing it himself. His delicious food has been enjoyed and well served in 5 stars hotels like Grand Melia-Jakarta, Four Seasons-Palm Beach, Kittichai-Thompson Hotel, Ember Room, and one of Todd English’s restaurants in New York City. He has created delicious meals for many influential people like Michelle Obama and the president of India.
He currently resides in Yangon, Myanmar (also knowns as Burma), and joins Sule-Shangrila, a luxury hotel in the heart of the city as an executive chef.
In this session, Chef Albert is sharing a traditional Burmese salad that considers a delicacy because of its long history in Myanmar. In ancient times, this salad was a peace symbol or peace offering between kingdoms at war. Now, this salad is an expression of great hospitality offerings to houseguests.
Lahpet Thoke (pronounced “la-pay-toe”) is a delicious fermented tea leaves salad that features a unique earthy and tangy flavor. This salad delivers freshness, fragrant flavor, and has many health benefits from the ingredients.
I made this salad over the weekend and was blown away by the flavor ~ I can’t wait to share this recipe with you!
This by far is the most refreshing, full of flavor and delicious salad you can enjoy in the summer. [ serve this with your favorite cocktail as a bonus! ]
S: Hi Chef, how do you describe Myanmar cuisine?
A: Myanmar cuisine is very similar to most food in South East Asia. The ingredients we use are very common to many neighborhood countries like Thailand, or India. We use a lot of lemongrass, shallots, garlic, coconut, shrimp paste, fish sauce, and limes.
S: What are daily meals people eat here in Yangon?
A: Because Myanmar has a lot of influence from India, so there a lot of different kinds of curry and stews. Rice noodle-like Mohinga‚ is an essential part of Burmese cuisine. Most of the meals are served with rice or noodles.
S: Could you please share one of your favorite traditional Burmese recipes?
A: Sure! Here’s a recipe for tea leaf salad I love. Enjoy.
Lahpet Thoke (Pickled or Fermented Tea Leaves)
For pickled or fermented tea leaves
- 1 cup dried green tea leaves (you will steep the leaves in a boiling water)
- 1 cup finely chopped cabbage
- 3 stalks scallions, chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 (- 1 inch) piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- ½ piece Thai chili pepper, finely chopped (optional)
- 2 limes, zested
- 2 limes juice
- 1 cup vegetable oil
For the salad
- ¾ cup fermented tea leaves, drained from oil
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 3 tbsp roasted peanuts (i didn't use these, so it's optional)
- 1 tbsp fried garlic (fried, thinly sliced garlic)
- 2 tbsp cooked yellow split peas (after soaking overnight)
- 4 cherry tomatoes, cut in wedges
- 2 tbsp dried shrimp, soaked in water for 10 minutes and drained (optional)
- 1 cup shredded cabbage
- 1 lime juice
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon garlic oil
To make pickled or fermented tea leaves
- Boil 2 cup of water and add tea laves. Let it steep for 10 minutes.
- Drain from water. Set aside.
- If the leaves are too bitter for your taste, you can repeat the process 2 times over.
- Mix steeped tea leaves and add the rest of ingredients in a jar or a bowl with a lid.
- Store the pickled tea leaves mixture in a jar with the lid closed. Keep it in a fridge for 3 days.
To assemble the salad
- Mix salad ingredients in a bowl.
- Mix all ingredients for salad dressing in a separate bowl.
- Drain 3/4 cup of fermented tea leaves from excess oil.
- Mix it together with the rest of ingredients (including salad dressing) and divide them into 2 separate bowls.
- Enjoy as an appetizer.