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What Is Mohinga?

By Eugene P.
Updated May 16, 2024
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Mohinga is a dish served throughout the country of Burma, also known as Myanmar. It is a type of fish curry that contains many spices and ingredients such as cubes of fish, lemongrass, rice flour, garlic, onions, banana stems and black pepper. The dish is made in a way so it resembles a very liquid soup, although the taste of the finished sauce is very rich. Mohinga frequently is eaten as a breakfast food, although it also is served throughout the course of the day and usually is spooned over noodles and presented with an array of optional toppings. The popularity of mohinga throughout Burma has led to a large amount of variation in the actual recipe from one region to the next.

A basic recipe for mohinga starts by rolling cubes of raw fish, usually some type of white fish such as catfish, in a mixture of salt and turmeric. Next, the ingredients for the curry are prepared. Most recipes include onion, garlic, ginger, lemongrass and black pepper. Other ingredients can include lotus root, paprika, fish sauce and coriander. The fish and all the spices are cooked in oil in a large heavy pan until the mixture becomes aromatic and the fish has cooked through.

Rice powder or yellow split pea powder, both of which can easily be made by toasting the dried rice or peas until brown and then grinding them into a powder, is added to the pan. Whole split peas also can be added at this point, if desired. A good amount of water — the liquid that will become the mohinga soup — is poured into the pot. Any remaining ingredients, such as banana stem, fish sauce or hot chili peppers, also are placed in the pot at this point and allowed to cook.

In some recipes, mohinga is cooked for only 20 to 30 minutes. When traditionally prepared as a street food, the soup is made the night before it will be served and reheated in the morning, giving it several hours to rest and develop flavors. The liquid in the pot will reduce slightly as it cooks but should remain fairly loose, more like a soup than a stew, although this is left up to the tastes of the individual chef.

When served, mohinga usually is poured over thin noodles or rice noodles. Many types of toppings and condiments are made available to be placed on top of the soup. These toppings can include boiled duck eggs, crispy fried fish, fried garlic, bamboo shoots, cilantro and lime, to name a few.

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