Saturday, October 18, 2014

Eat your tea!...Laphet Thoke

Laphet Thoke - tea meal unmixed
At the Rangoon Ruby restaurant in Palo Alto, I had the best tea and didn’t even drink it!  I couldn’t actually drink it because it was a salad.  While eating tea leaves is not common in most parts of the world, it is a popular tradition in Myanmar (formerly Burma) in the form of tea leaf salad.  There, tea leaf salad, Laphet Thoke, is a typical part of family meals.[1]

Palaung woman prepares to ferment tea leaves
Photo credit: Claudia
“Laphet” in Burmese means pickled tea and “Thoke” means mixture or salad.  Laphet is made by fermenting fresh tea leaves.  Newly picked tea leaves get steamed for about an hour, then spread on mats and hand pressed.  The leaves are then packed tightly into a container (traditionally a bamboo lined pit) and covered with stones or another weight to compress the leaves and squeeze out air.  They are then left that way to ferment for several months to as long as a year.[2]  Laphet as a delicacy was originally created and produced by the Palaung people in the Shan region of northern Myanmar.[3]  Sixty percent of the tea produced in Myanmar still comes from this region.[4]

Laphet Thoke - tea meal mixed
The salad I ate was brought to the table in the traditional way, which is on a single plate with separate piles of additional ingredients - nuts, seeds, lettuce…  It was then tossed together and served.  The flavors were layered and complex with a sweet and sour tang and a little bit of a spicy after taste.  I loved the jumble of textures - soft, crunchy and crisp elements.  It was wonderful.

Laphet Thoke can come in many variations.  Here’s one recipe you might like:

1/3 cup fermented green tea leaves
4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1/4 cup peanut oil
2 tablespoons peanuts (coarsely chopped)
2 tablespoons cooked lentils
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (toasted)
2 tablespoons dried shrimp
1/2 lime (sliced or juiced)
1/3 cup shredded cabbage or lettuce

Sauté the garlic in 2 teaspoons of the oil until it starts to turn brown. Remove from heat.  Combine with the tea leaves and the remaining oil in a bowl and knead. Let the mixture sit at least one hour or until leaves soften.  Serve with the other ingredients.

[2] “The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the World,” by Sandor Ellix Katz, 2012


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment(s). We like hearing from you.

Sara and Andrea

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...