As I grew up and my exposure to Burmese food increased, I discovered that salads are a fundamental part of Burmese cuisine. There’s tea leaf salad, rice salad, ginger salad, and so on and so forth. Many of them are mixed by hand and include fish sauce, oil, and a variety of aromatics. Some of them are delicious, and some of them are weeeird, but I suppose thats a matter of taste. The only one I was familiar with in my earlier years was ginger salad and boooooy did I love it. Pickled ginger, crunchy cabbage, fried lentils and lima beans, peanuts, lemons, the list goes on! So many delicious things all combined into one refreshing and wonderful salad. Its a safe bet for picky eaters because its flavorful, but not offensively so, and doesn’t contain too many crazy foreign ingredients. It is easy to make, arguably pretty healthy, and incredibly refreshing. Yaaaay! Let’s make some.
Gin thoke takes a little planning ahead but it’s really no biggy. The lentils and lima beans need to be soaked overnight and the ginger pickled but it doesn’t take much. Its easiest and cheapest to buy dried lentils and lima beans but before you fry them, they need to be refreshed SO throw them in a little bowl with some water and baking soda and leave them for the night.
Also, slice your ginger nice and thin into little matchsticks and soak it at least overnight in lemon juice. It’ll make the ginger nice and zesty! Do it.
Now have yourself a nice sleep, dream of ginger, and lentils, and whatever else you dream about and don’t worry about your salad. You’ll wake up in the morning to some lovely ginger and some beans and lentils ready to be shelled and fried. Dry your beans and lentils as much as possible so that they don’t splatter when added to the oil. Heat up some oil, about two inches worth, till its nice and hot, around 200º or until the oil bubbles when the beans are dropped it BUT not so hot that they immediately start to brown. Fry in batches so that they cook evenly and can easily be fished out of the oil.
Once you’re finished you’ll have a lot of lovely golden brown lentils and lima beans on your hands. Salt them lightly and then set them aside. Also be sure to snack on some while you’re prepping the rest of your salad!
So we’re done with the frying now. It probably took about twenty minutes? Yeah? Yeah. Now get excited…that was the hard part! I know! Exciting right? I’m super lazy so I always get really stoked about easy to make delicious food. Yaaaaay! Now, since you’re done frying its time to start chopping. Grab your cabbage, chop it in half, and slice it as finely as possible. You want it to be in little ribbons almost. Super thin.
While your at it slice up half an onion, chop up half a serrano pepper, and smash up some peanuts. Preeeetty easy yes? Yes. After you’ve finished chopping, its time to start assembling. Gather your ingredients and get yourself a large bowl.
Combine all your cabbage, ginger, peanuts, peppers, onions, lemon juice, fish sauce, oil, etc. in the bowl. Usually you mix it with your hands BUT if you don’t want to get your hands dirty then fiiiine you can use a spoon. This dish is very “to taste” so be sure to taste your salad and add more lemon or salt or oil or whatever till it tastes just right. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes so that everything can settle….then eat it!!!!!
- 1/2 cup dried lentils, refreshed and fried
- 1/2 cup dried lima beans, refreshed and fried
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup lemon juice, about 2 lemons
- 1 thumb of fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
- 2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
- 2 tbsp dry roasted salted peanuts, smashed
- 1/2 napa cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 serrano pepper, seeds discarded and diced
- ~1 tbsp fish sauce
- ~1 tbsp peanut oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
The night before you plan to serve the salad, soak the lima beans and lentils in two separate bowls of water with a tsp of baking soda in each. Also, place the ginger and lemon juice in a jar and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
The next morning, drain and thoroughly dry the lima beans and lentils. Heat oil in a heavy pot and fry beans and lentils in separate batches till golden brown. Drain the fried goods and set aside. In a large bowl combine the cabbage, onion, pepper, sesame seeds, peanuts, fish oil, peanut oil, pickled ginger, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup each of the lentils and lima beans. Stir till thoroughly combined. Taste and add oil and sauce as necessary. Let sit for about 5-10 minutes and serve.