Mohinga (Myanmar fish soup)

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Drum roll, please! 🥁🥁🥁

I am so proud to share the recipe of what is probably best known as Myanmar’s national dish: mohinga. Also, this is my mother’s recipe, so look no further if you want to taste the real Burmese food!

Mohinga is a fish soup with rice noodles that is sold everywhere in Myanmar, as street food, at food stalls, and in restaurants. It is usually eaten at breakfast but can be served at lunch and dinner as well.

If I am being honest, when I was younger, I did not like it that much. Fish sauce is one of the key ingredients and as you can guess, it tasted way too strong for my inexperienced palate 🙂 Luckily, I started to appreciate it more and more as I was growing up.

The fish soup is traditionally made with catfish, but since it is a bit difficult to source here, I used a mix of basa and cod (sea bass will work fine too). I used fillets, but you can also use a whole fish (see notes below). As mentioned before, fish sauce is key here, and cannot be substituted with anything else. Garlic, fresh ginger, ground turmeric, and lemongrass stalks are the main aromatics for the fish broth. You will also need rice flour and chickpeas flour, which will make the soup slightly thicker. Mohinga normally requires vermicelli (thin) rice noodles, but if difficult to find, you can use other types of rice noodles.

Finally, the lovely and so important garnishes! Boiled eggs, lime wedges, fresh coriander (but you can use fresh parsley if you do not like coriander), chili oil, and split chickpeas (chana dal) crackers, called Pe Kyaw, for the crunchy part. You’ll find the Pe Kyaw recipe here. I’ve also added grilled prawns to give it my personal touch, but I need to say this is not part of the traditional recipe! 😀

Enjoy!

Mohinga (Myanmar fish soup)

Difficulty: Advanced Prep Time 15 mins Cook Time 90 mins Total Time 1 hr 45 mins
Servings: 6
Best Season: Suitable throughout the year

Ingredients

To granish

Instructions

Toast the rice flour

  1. Toast the rice flour in a pan on medium heat for 3-5 minutes. You will know when it's ready when the rice flour becomes golden brown. Place it in a bowl and set aside to cool down.

Prepare the fish broth

  1. Place the first 7 ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and let it simmer gently for 15-20 minutes. Once ready, remove the fish from the broth and leave it aside to cool down. Save the broth for later (discarding the lemongrass, clove of garlic and the piece of ginger).

Make the soup

  1. Mix the rice flour (it should have cooled down by now) with the gram flour and add the liter of water to it. Stir well and set aside (remember to give it another stir before adding it to the soup).

  2. Shred the cooked fish with your hands (be careful the fish is cool enough to do so) and set aside.

  3. Take a large pot and heat the oil. Add the onions and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes or until softened. Add the grated garlic, ginger and cook for a minute. Then add the crushed lemongrass stalks, the chilli powder and ground turmeric and mix well.

  4. Add the shredded fish and the liquids (the fish broth and the measured water with the rice flour and gram flour), add the fish sauce, salt, pepper and the peeled shallots. Bring the soup to a boil, then let it simmer on low-medium heat for 45 minutes. 

While the soup cooks, prepare the garnishes

  1. Prepare the pe kyaw, although I recommend doing so ahead of making the soup if possible. 

  2. Cook the rice vermicelli noodles according to the instructions of your package, boil the eggs, cut the limes into wedges, roughly chop the fresh herbs.

  3. For the chilli oil, place 1-2 tsp chilli powder or chilli flakes in a small bowl. Heat 1-2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a small pan and once hot, pour into the bowl with the chilli powder or flakes and stir well. Set aside.

  4. If using, grill the prawns.

Assemble your bowl

  1. To assemble the dish, first, place a portion of cooked noodles in the centre of each individual bowl. Pour over the soup, and garnish with half of a boiled egg, fresh herbs, a lime wedge (each person will squeeze it all over the soup before eating), drizzle with chilli oil and top with pe kyaw (this will be broken into pieces when eating) and a grilled prawn (if using). 

Notes

If using a whole fish, instead of fish fillets, follow the exact same instructions with the following remarks:

  • to make the fish broth, place the whole fish scaled and degutted in the pot, it will take longer to cook (approx. 30 minutes);
  • once cooked, remove the fish from the broth and wait until it is cooled down to remove the skin and debone it (be careful to remove any small bones) before shredding the flesh as per above instructions.
Keywords: burmese, soup, fish, noodles
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