Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Recipe - Burmese Tea Leaf Salad

Burmese Tea Leaf Salad (Lahpet Thoke)

During a recent trip to San Francisco, we finally dined at the much raved about Burma Superstar.  One dish we knew to try was the Tea Leaf Salad.  According to their website they actually go to Burma to get the tea leaves (Lahpet) for their salad.



I got home and craved this salad.  I figured it would be easy enough to find the fermented tea leaves - they are common in Burmese cuisine and Lahpet is traditionally eaten during ceremonies and celebrations.  Well, I thought wrong.  After researching and reading articles online I discovered that Lahpet is not easily found in the US, if at all.  There are trade embargoes that prevent imports from Burma.  Great.

Further I saw some older news articles about the tea leaves being tainted with Auramine O, a chemical dye not fit for human consumption.  SCARY!  But I decided to chance it when I found an online retailer in the UK that would ship the Burmese fermented tea leaves to the US!  I spent $40 on two small packages, most of which was for the shipping charges.  Ugh.  What a waste.  These were disgusting.  Musty, yellowish almost rotten flavored tea leaves.  Yes, I tried them, and tossed both bags.

Feeling disappointed, I decided to challenge myself and try to make "fermented" tea leaves.  I figured, how hard could it be?  After a few trials and errors, I came up with something good!  I do worry that I may have forgotten what Burma Superstar's version of this salad tasted like. But I feel happy about what I've created. 

Let me know what you think of this one... I'll likely refine it after another trip to SF!

37 comments:

  1. Ohhh I will have to try this. We fell in love with the fermented tea leaf salad from Burma Superstar.

    SO.GOOD!

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    1. damn right it is!!!!!

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  2. Fantastic! If you try the recipe, let me know what you think... it may need some tweaking!

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  3. I too have eaten there and it is wonderful. Tried to find and research ingredients in Indiana, but to little availe. Will try your recipe and see how it compares, but it looks great!

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  4. I've been to both the above mentioned restaurant and the Golden Mandalay on California and 7th. The Golden Mandalay has gotten rave reviews on this very same salad. I personally like their (the Golden Mandalay's) version better. What a great excuse for lunch!

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  5. Thanks for this! I made a modified version of your tea leaves and will serve the salad tonight. I linked back to this post! http://culinary-adventures-with-cam.blogspot.com/2012/03/laphet-fermented-burmese-tea-leaves.html

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  6. Monica – I lived in San Francisco for about 6 years (2001-2007) and my husband and I were regular Burma Superstar customers. Ever since moving back to Austin, my husband and I crave this salad regularly...to the point where we have considered buying cheap plane tickets just to get our Burma tea leaf salad fix. I’m not kidding. We made this salad last week and it was hands down INCREDIBLE. We couldn’t believe how much it was like the real deal. When we lived in SF, we took pretty much every family member and friend to Burma Superstar when they came to visit. We made this salad again last night for family, and they could not stop raving about it and how it was just like the one they had at Burma. I’m amazed at how you figured out a way to create “pseudo” lahpet – the key ingredient to the Burma Superstar Tea Leaf Salad! Seriously...THANK YOU for bringing our favorite dish on earth to Austin, Texas!

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  7. Hi Monica,

    My husband and I are very excited to try your recipe. We tried Burmese cuisine for the first time in San Francisco this month. We live in Toronto and have only one Burmese restaurant that is described as having "food being kept warm under heat lamps" so, needless to say, we were disappointed that there is no decent Burmese in our area. I tried searching for a place to get the tea leaves and found some websites that let you order but since there seemed to be no reviews of them, I was wary. We are going to try making your salad as we have been craving it ever since our return. We will let you know what we thought of it.

    Thanks for providing an alternative!

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  8. Fantastic! I think it is only missing the yellow lentils.

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  9. Monica, this is absolutely genius! We were in San Francisco visiting friends last week and were just bowled over by our first trip to Burma Superstar. Basically the first thing I did when I got home was google "Burmese tea salad recipe". Your version is SPECTACULAR. My husband was actually moaning while he ate it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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  10. I am so thrilled that you liked this recipe! It takes some work, but I think in the end, it's worth it! I love the feedback, and I am so happy that this can be a substitute for those of us that are far away from a Burmese restaurant!

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  11. Hi Monica,

    Where do you get the tea leaves?

    Thanks!

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  12. Thank you for sharing this recipe. It worked out WONDERFUL. If and when you do refine it after another trip to SF, I will be all ears!

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  13. I love this salad from Burma Superstar in Alameda, I really am trying to determine the number of Weight Watcher points for it so I can incorporate this into my plan. Any ideas out there? I am going to take this recipe and do my best.

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  14. Add me to your bandwagon! We live only 40 miles south of SF, but today was my first taste of that fabulous salad. Of course I did just what Jenny above did as soon as I got home. I will look no further before trying your version and will absolutely report back ASAP. Thanks so much, and three cheers for living in the era of the internet!!

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  15. I ate at Burma Star last night after a mny year hiatus, and I could swear there were tiny dried shrimp in this salad. Most of hte other recipes on line aslo call for at least shrimp powder. Did you deliberately leave it out?

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    1. Yes, I left the dried shrimp out since my husband despises seafood.. :( I haven't tried the salad with dried shrimp for that same reason.

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  16. Okay, let me set this up right. I live in San Francisco. My apartment is five measly blocks from a Burmese kitchen that serves tea leaf salad. So I can pretty much get the restaurant grade stuff whenever I want. I stumbled on your pseudo laphet recipe quite a while ago and always wondered how it lived up to my standards. Well, I just made and ate your recipe and . . .

    YOU ARE INGENIOUS, WOMAN! This recipe needs to be put on blast, pronto! I no longer have to leave the house to eat tea leaf salad! I can impress people by making it at home! THANK YOU! You have helped many who don't have access to Burmese food acquire the flavors of the real deal! And now you've helped someone that has complete access to the real deal make it at home herself! Effing brilliant.

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  17. Thank you so much Jennoodle! I am so happy that you enjoyed this recipe! The next one I hope to tackle is the Paratha & Dip they serve, if I remember correctly it was kind of like chicken coconut curry... That stuff was to die for! :)

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  18. Oh, and just as a side note, in my recipe I used half white vinegar, half apple cider vinegar, and I threw some of the whole chilies used in Filipino spiced vinegar in there, (ground them right up with the leaves with a mortar and pestle,) and I enjoyed the slight spiciness it added. Hence, I like how versatile your recipe is, too!

    Keep up your magic, you just made another new fan :)

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    1. That sounds awesome! I love anything spicy, I will try the chiles next time I make this!

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  19. I would love to try your recipe! Any chance you can repost it? The link for some reason won't work-- hopefully it's a temporary thing. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi Miss Sunny! The website had some issues today but everything should be back to normal now! Let me know if you still have trouble viewing the recipes. Thanks!

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  20. Monica - Fantastic recipe. We live a stone's throw from Burma Super Star and adore this salad. I made your recipe the other day for my partner, and he looked at me incredulously and said "this is it! this is it!! you got it!!" Kudos to you, Monica, its delicious!

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    1. Thank you so much Kim! I am so thrilled that you and your partner could enjoy this recipe!

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  21. I just got back from Burma and was sad that I can't find Pickled Tea Leaves here in L.A. (At least not yet.) I plan to try your recipe, but could you please do me a favor and tell me what Maggi Seasoning is?

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    1. Maggi is a seasoning you can often find at Asian grocers, most likely in the aisle near the soy sauce. It's similar in appearance to soy sauce but tastes drastically different.

      If you click Maggi Seasoning in the recipe ingredients it will take you to an image of the bottle, its sold in both large and smaller sizes. In LA, you may even find it at grocery chains like Vons or Ralphs in the Asian section.

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  22. I buy my fermented tea leaf in Daly City but I am interested in trying out your recipe to see if it taste the same.

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  23. Thank you for this amazing recipe! We tried making this salad earlier this week -- we are vegetarians so left out the fish sauce and actually also omitted the Maggi seasoning to keep it more natural...and it tasted delicious!

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  24. We live around the corner from Burma Superstar but don't always want to wait for 90 minutes to get in. So I gave this recipe a try and WOW, it's pretty darn close to the real thing! Thanks for sharing!

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  25. We live around the corner from Burma Superstar but don't always want to wait 90 minutes to get in. I tried this recipe this past weekend and WOW - it's pretty darn close to the real thing! Thanks for sharing!

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  26. Monica, you're awesome. Tried this now with Braggs Liquid Amino instead of Maggy's seasoning - worked great !

    A.

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  27. I'm obsessed with Burma Superstar and their tea leaf salad. I live in Portland, a city with such amazing food, but nothing Burmese unless you count Burmese inspired hipster bar food. I cannot wait to try this recipe! Thank you, thank you.

    Also, please consider tackling the samusa soup from Burma Superstar. I can't stop thinking about it and won't be back to SF until this summer.

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    1. I haven't tried the samusa soup.. And unfortunately I don't live in or near SF to try it! I'm also in the Pacific NW.. ;) but I will definitely give it a try when I go back!

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  28. i could have this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner

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  29. Made this last night for a birthday party. Resulted in a happy birthday girl, which is as much as anyone can ask for. Well done!

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    1. Thank you!! Glad you enjoyed the recipe!

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