I started to notice fermented tea salad packs from Myanmar about 2 years ago in Wisconsin. In Philadelphia, these packages can be found at markets that cater to Southeast Asian tastes. The best selection will be from South 7th St’s Friendly Market. You can also find this at Rising Star market, also on 7th St.
This salad, known as Lahpet Thohk လက်ဖက်သုတ်, is a much beloved food in Myanmar. It is delicious as an accompaniment to rice and other dishes.
The ready-to-mix packs that can be found in Philly Asian markets have two packages inside, one is the fermented tea/garlic/oil, and one is the fried crunchy nuts/beans/seeds. The bags are often double or triple wrapped, to try to prevent oil from leaching out (often unsuccessfully). You can find these in single-serving sizes, or family-size, like the one I picked up:
There is another similar salad that you can find in similar packaging that is pickled ginger instead of tea. Here is a creative commons image of both tea and ginger, ready to be mixed with crunchy bits. That is also delicious.
For those of you concerned with global corporate powers and influence, I should point out that the Yuzana brand is a conglomerate with close ties to the former ruling powers of the junta that controlled Myanmar until 2011. This conglomerate continues to hold much power and influence in Myanmar. There are other brands out there for fermented tea leaves, but depending on your shop you might be limited to one or another. So far, I’ve only tried one other brand (with no English on the label), but that one had really mushy and gritty tea leaves.
The salad is delicious on its own, mixing together the crunchy bits with the tea. Even better, you can add a few more things to make a larger salad that is really delicious and more substantial (like what I did above with cabbage).
To make this delicious salad, finely chop some cabbage and a chile pepper, and dice a tomato. Put this in a larger bowl for mixing, and add the crunchy bits and tea leaves. Season with a splash of fish sauce and lime juice.
If you would like to try this salad in a restaurant setting, try Rangoon Burmese Restaurant on 9th St in Philly’s Chinatown.
Pingback: Gundruk: an essential food staple and flavor in Nepali cooking | Asian Markets of Philadelphia
Pingback: 7th Street’s Friendly Market | Asian Markets of Philadelphia