taken from hsa*ba, burmese cookbook
Early one morning during our stay in Rangoon, my cousin, Myint Han, came back from the market with two heavy plastic bags. ‘You’re in luck,’ he told me. ‘It was full moon last night so it’s time to eat crab!’
Having already eaten a second breakfast that morning with his sister, Khin Khin Lat, the thought of more food made me sink into the cane chair, where I sat underneath the whirring ceiling fan, nursing my full stomach. Christopher on the other hand was curious and followed Myint Han into the kitchen. Though neither Christopher nor Myint Han spoke a common language they were still able to communicate.
After some time, Christopher came back to the sitting room and asked, ‘What has full moon got to do with eating crabs?’ I was about to reply when I realised I wasn’t sure. So we both ventured into the kitchen to see a wok on the coal stove now steaming with crabs. I asked Myint Han about his full moon remark. He explained that the Burmese believed crabs were at their best at this time of the month, when they came out to feed during a low tide.
The crabs were simply boiled and served with a sharp dip of soy sauce, lime juice, crushed garlic and chopped green chillies. The salty sour combination complimented the sweet succulent meat of the crab. It was the best crab I have ever tasted so there must be some truth to the full moon belief. After two breakfasts, and still only ten o’clock in the morning, I could not eat more than half a crab while Christopher somehow put away nearly two.
‘Hsa ba,’ please eat, Myint Han encouraged. ‘Htut hsa ba,’ eat more!