Kyaukswe thoke (Burmese mixed rainbow salad)
June 25, 2018
My favorite traditional burmese salad is called Kyaukswe Lethoke, literally translated to “Noodles mixed with your hands”. The salad calls for a wide variety of shredded ingredients and is made much easier with the use of an electric food processor with a julienne blade, or a mandolin slicer. The key to this salad is the balance between sour, salty, spicy, and umami dressing elements. Traditionally this salad will use fish sauce for saltiness and dried shrimp powder for umami flavor, but these can be omitted to make the salad vegetarian, in which case I suggest adding a mushroom flavored salt to make up for both ingredients.
I love to make this salad for gay pride in particular and play up the “rainbow” elements of the dish. The red comes from the chili powder and the rice which is flavored with sriracha. The orange color will come from carrots, and I like to get multicolored carrots to add yellow and purple colors as well to expand the spectrum. Green will come from cilantro and bean sprouts. Blue/purple will come from red cabbage.
Tip: You can peel the potatoes easily by scoring the middle of the potato before you boil them (as seen here)
- 8 oz. egg noodle
- 8 oz. rice sticks or vermicelli
- 4 Tbsp Sriracha or Sambal
- 1 cup cooked white rice
- 1 pound potato
- 4 oz. bean sprouts
- 1/2 cup cilantro, minced
- 8 oz. carrots
- 1 red onion, sliced finely into half-rings
- 2 Tbsp. roasted chana flour
- 6 cloves garlic, finely sliced
- 16 oz. red cabbage
- 2 Tbsp. dried shrimp, finely ground
- 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
- 4 Tbsp. tamarind paste
- 2 Tbsp. paprika
- 2 Tbsp. turmeric
- 2 Tbsp. chili powder
- 4 Tbsp. garlic oil
- 6 cloves (for garnish) fried garlic
- Toast the chana flour by stirring it slowly over low-medium heat on a skillet for about 5 minutes until it turns to a light brown color and gives off a nutty aroma. Set aside.
- Cook the white rice according to the directions, with 4 tablespoons of sriracha sauce added to the boil to give it a rich red color.
- Boil the potatoes until they are fork tender and remove the skins. Quarter the potatoes to make them easier to mix.
- Boil the egg noodles according to the directions.
- Add hot water to the rice sticks or vermicelli to soften them.
- Blanch the bean sprouts in boiling water for 3 minutes and then transfer to an ice bath.
- Slice garlic extremely thinly and brown in a quarter inch of vegetable oil. Dry on paper towels and reserve the garlic oil for the dressing.
- Use a food processor with a julienne blade attachment to shred the carrots and red cabbage.
- Combine the chickpea flour, rice, egg noodles, rice noodles, potatoes, bean sprouts, red onion, carrots, cabbage, and cilantro in a large bowl and dress with fish sauce, tamarind paste, and garlic oil. Dust lightly with the dried shrimp powder.
- The salad can be mixed tableside using food-preparation gloves, or mixed with a spoon (if you are doing this, you will want to chop the potatoes finer before mixing.
- Serve at room temperature. Top with fried garlic chips and extra chili powder to taste.
Written by Will Chiong who lives and works in New York building useful things.