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‘Soaked' noodles whet appetites

Update: January, 05/2015 - 17:19

Stalled service: A roadside stall in Yangon's Tarmwe town, one of many stalls that serves the traditional Mon dish of yay sein mohingar, rice noodles served with beans, bean sprouts, coriander and mint.

by Aye Moet Moet Aung Thu

Considered by many as Myanmar's national dish, mohingar (rice noodle in fish soup) boasts many regional variations, one of which is called yay sein (literally "water-soaked").

Myat Myint Moh, the roadside stall in Yangon's Tarmwe Township, is one of the popular stalls in town that serves this traditional Mon dish. In Mon State, yay sein mohingar is usually served with beans, bean sprouts, string beans, sawtooth coriander and mint. Tamarind paste is also used instead of lime or lemon. Locals who are not familiar with such optional extras go for coriander, bean sprouts and fritters as favourite toppings at Myat Myint Moh.

What sets yay sein mohingar - also known as Mawlamyine mohingar - apart from the regular mohingar is the meticulous process of making rice noodles. First, the rice is ground into flour for making the dough, which is then pressed into a sieving machine. The obtained fresh rice noodles then go directly into boiling water for five minutes. The cooked rice noodles are then rinsed with cold water and ready to be served. Unlike the regular mohingar, chickpea flour is not used in yay sein mohingar.

"The fresh rice noodle cannot be bought easily unlike [that of] other mohingar. I have to buy the rice dough and make the noodle myself by turning the lever [of a noodle-sieving machine]. So it's made using traditional methods of Mon State," said Shein, owner of the stall.

Street food: Genuine yay sein mohingar isn't served in upscale restaurants but at simple roadside eateries.

The main ingredients for making the broth are fish, banana tree stalks, banana leaves, onions and lemongrass, without any MSG or other preservatives. The broth's natural sweetness comes from the fish and onions.

"I only eat this mohingar not only in Mawlamyine, but also in the rest of Mon State. I opened the stall in Yangon because yay sein mohingar is something rare here. Also the homesick Mon people working in Yangon might be missing the food from their hometowns," she added.

A regular bowl of yay sein mohingar costs 400 kyats (US$0.40). Add 100 kyats (US$0.10) or 200 kyats (US$0.20) for extra toppings of fritters, pae thway (a type of bean), hard-boiled egg and fried featherback fish. — Eleven (Myanmar)

Translated by Thida Linn

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