Sunday, April 21, 2013


If you've been slogging down the Irrawaddy River with me, you deserve a break. The only thing I can do for you is to tell you about this salad we ate several times at an open air but very nice (white tablecloths!) restaurant at the edge of town.
But first, a little background on Bagan: a flat plain stretching for miles in north central Myanmar. In sixteen square miles, over two thousands temples were built between the 9th and 13th Centuries AD. Most are standing, some are heaps of old brick, some of them four storeys tall, elaborate stonework; think their version of Europe's gothic cathedrals. (No matter who you worship, it all goes to the same place, you know.)
But to get around to see these ancient sites, some of which are still in use, walking was not sensible. And there was  no bus. And our budget did not allow for car and driver or a dawn balloon ride. So we rented bikes. This was not my first choice, but in the end it was the only choice. I spent a lot of time muttering oops and falling gracefully onto the sand.
At the end of the day we'd go back to the hotel, fix drinks and take them out to the overlook above the river where chairs were arranged. Nice way to spend an hour or two. Hunger always got us moving and we lucked into this place a short bike ride away, just past some old pillars that flanked the road. The restaurant had a brick floor, soaring beams (coconut palm wood, I think, but maybe teak), and a heavily thatched roof, all sheltering a 50' square space. The simple salad was delicious.
On a bed of lettuce, arrange sliced red tomatoes. Sprinkle over diagonally cut green onions, and several tablespoons of finely chopped peanuts. I use dry roasted hot peanuts. Pass a vinaigrette heavy on the lime juice: 1/4 c neutral (not olive) oil; 1/4 c fresh lime juice; 1 tbsp (or more) fish sauce, 1/2 tsp each salt, dark brown sugar, black pepper and chili pepper. Whisk vigorously. Don't bother with this if you can't get fresh limes, it's just not worth it. Ditto the tomatoes; those pink hockey pucks? Yech. I've tried this with yellow tomatoes, and red (more acidic) is better. The chopped peanuts really are necessary, too.

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