a good substitute for roselle leaves
I had a wonderful dinner last night at a local restaurant called Fish Face in Sydney. I adore seafood and the fish there was beautifully fresh. I was eating a crispy-skin snapper topped with spinach and preserved lemons when I thought about chin maung kyaw – roselle leaf curry. The spinach and lemon combination reminded me of the dish, a good substitute when roselle leaves are unavailable.
The great thing about Burmese food is I can always cook something that will satisfy my longing for ‘chin chin, ngan, ngna, sut sut.’ – sour, salty and spicy.
a large bunch English spinach
100ml peanut oil
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves
3 whole dried chillies, soaked in hot water
or chilli flakes
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
50g canned bamboo shoots, sliced
1 lemon, juiced
fish sauce to season
a few green chillies
handful of dried shrimp
Give the spinach a thorough wash and cut into manageable lengths. Pound the onions, garlic and dried chillies into a coarse paste in a pestle and mortar or chop everything very finely.
Heat the oil in a saucepan and cook the onion paste over moderate heat, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes. When it is soft and caramelised, add the turmeric and stir for a minute. If you’re using green chillies and dried shrimp, add them now.
Add the spinach and stir with a wooden spoon until the leaves have wilted. Mix in the bamboo shoots and lemon juice. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the leaves have turned dark green and the liquid has reduced. Season with fish sauce and taste. There should be a good balance of sourness, salt and spiciness.
cooking time: 25-35 mins