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Tea Leaf Salad in Myanmar

To say Myanmar cuisine makes generous use of oil is an understatement. Oil seems to be the key ingredient in every dish we encountered. It's as if the waitstaff are asking you, "Would you like some salad to go with your oil?" Because we've been trying to watch what we eat on the road, we weren't too keen on the over abundance of oil in the food in Myanmar. However, with some help and advice of where to eat and the best dishes to try from some of the locals in Mandalay we were hooked. Our favorite dish there, and perhaps our favorite from everywhere we've visited, was the fermented tea leaf salad. The salad is a beautiful mix of veggies, fermented tea leaves, garlic, soybean powder, fish sauce (it's in everything in SE Asia), chilis, peanuts, and lots of wonderful and mysterious crunchy bits on top. Yes, fermented tea leaves sound a bit odd and not too tasty, but, after one taste you become an addict. Everyday in Mandaly, and sometimes more than once, we visited a street vendor who specialized in making the salad. The price - 50 cents, the taste - to die for. All of the salads in Myanmar are incredible, but this this salad is so famous and is such a staple in Myanmar cuisine that it's even incorporated into other dishes. In Inle Lake we visited a pizzeria that topped their pizza with our favorite salad. (more on that later;) East meets West in the most flavorful way you could imagine.

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