Chef Sumet’s Cooking Demonstration

This was the second day of sailing.  We were entertained in the morning with a cooking demonstration by Chef Sumet.  He prepared a traditional Burmese rice vermicelli with fish broth and condiments.  The name of the soup is called Mohinga. Not sure if it is exactly a soup or a vermicelli dish. It is usually eaten at breakfast but can be eaten at any meal.

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Chef Sumet explaining how to cut the lemongrass stalk

I won’t include the recipe ( I”ll be glad to email it to you)  since it is extremely lengthy but just a few details of the demonstration:

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The ingredients that went into the dish – sea bass, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, dried chili, ginger, shrimp paste, turmeric powder, chickpea powder, toasted rice powder, fish sauce, banana blossom dried rice vermicelli, coriander, lime juice, cooking oil.
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These are some of the fresh ingredients.
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Dried vermicelli soaked until soften
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Fish broth using sea bass lemongrass garlic, shallots and water
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Chili paste from scratch
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Banana blossom
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Baby bananas inside the blossom
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All the ingredients put together plus sliced hardboiled egg and coriander

Here is the finished product – The chef made everything from scratch – fish broth, chili paste and finally the Mohinga.  It was delicious, although I am not sure I would eat it for breakfast.  Chef Sumet was very detailed and knowledgeable.  He gave us a lot of cooking information, especially about Asian ingredients. Everyone enjoyed the demonstration and the samples.

Akauk Taung/ Tax Mountain

As we continued up the river we were told to look for the carvings of hundreds of Buddhas along the sides of the cliffs.  At the end of the Second Anglo-Burmese War, Burmese and British toll posts were situated on Akauk Taung – a site that takes its name from the mid-nineteenth century toll takers who would kill time in between charging passing boats by carving Buddha images on the steep cliffs.

The day we were traveling was also a holiday so we saw hundreds of people visiting the pagoda on the top of the cliff as well as viewing the carved Buddhas by boat along the cliffs.

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Pagoda on top of the cliff
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People going up the stairs to the pagoda and getting in and out of the boats

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Some of the carvings of Buddhas along the cliffsides

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Life Along the River On the Way To Pyay

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We docked right in front of this pig and his mother foraging for food.

 The Beautiful Shwe Sandaw Pagoda

The riverboat arrived earlier than expected into Pyay so we had an unexpected excursion to the town center and lovely pagoda.

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Thu Thu explained how the people use and make the betel

As we walked up to the temple, we saw people selling all kinds of things.  Our guide pointed out the betel leaves and explained how it is used.  Basically, it is made up of the betel nut (actual name is areca nut), slaked lime and catechu ( catechu is the extract from the areca palm tree and when heated by your saliva becomes a thick red paste) which is then wrapped in a betel leaf.  Similar to snuff, it is drug and has been linked to several oral health issues.  It has a stimulant effect somewhat like caffeine.  In 2017, the government of Myanmar launched a nationwide campaign to stop the use of the betel nut chewing. It has become the leading cause of death in the country.

Usually, at the entrance of every temple, all kinds of flowers and objects are sold as symbolic offerings.  These bright red and silver umbrella-like objects were seen at every temple.

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Offerings sold at the entrance
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An elderly lady selling betel leaf chews in front of the temple
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Ice cream cones always sold at the pagodas
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Seated Buddha at the entrance
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The view from the temple where the giant Buddha is located

At first, I just saw the view but then as I looked to the left, I saw this giant Buddha sitting among the trees.

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Giant seated Buddha – part of the view.
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Multiple seated Buddhas where you look over and see the giant seated Buddha
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Golden spires at the temple
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Sweet little girl enjoying her snack

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Little girl with her family at the pagoda
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We saw many monks.  They seemed a lot more approachable than the ones we saw in Cambodia.

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We had a chance to wander around on our own.  It is truly overwhelming to see the glittering gold and oversized decorated Buddhas which make up most of the temple architecture.  It is hard to know what to photograph.

On our way out we walked through a long passageway filled with all kinds of unusual things to buy.  Unfortunately, We were rushed through and really didn’t have time to look at everything.  I took this photo of these colorful owls.

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These owls are made of paper mache and are suppose to bring luck and prosperity to the family who owns them.

The pagoda was not that far from the boat so we all decided to walk back.  It was a lovely afternoon without any rain in sight.  As I was walking along an older gentleman came out from a building and walked toward me and started speaking in English.  He wanted to know where I was from and was I enjoying my visit to Myanmar.  Then he told me a bit about himself. I couldn’t really talk further as I had to stay with the group. So he kindly allowed me to take his photo.

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Just before we reached the boat we passed through a market and enjoyed seeing some of the fruit and vegetables and also stopped to watch people cooking on the street. Shawn and I were disappointed that we didn’t have much time to take photos.

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Custard apples or also known as cherimoya being sold in the market.

Local Entertainment

That evening after we arrived back on the boat, we enjoyed some local entertainment.  A Burmese dance group accompanied by musicians performed for us. The dances were unusual and the dancers very colorful.  The music was extremely dissonant and somewhat hard for western ears to listen to. Historically, the traditions of Burmese music go back at least 1500 years. It was, although, a treat to take a peek at this part of the Burmese culture.

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The Burmese musicians and their instruments
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Two of the Burmese dancers

The next morning we visited Sri Kestra in Pyay, a World Heritage Site.  See what it is all about in my next post.

5 thoughts

  1. Quite an experience! And all those Buddha’s! There must have been a lot of time between boats for them all to be carved out of stone. I found the banana flower with baby bananas very interesting. ‘Looking forward to your next post. 😊

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  2. Wow! That is alot of Buddhas! The food class sounds like fun. Gkad you had some sunny weather. Keep on having a good time.

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  3. It is really interesting to see the ingredients they use. It must take a lot of time to gather them and then to make a dish. The cook must work from dawn to dark to feed a family!!! The life along the river is fascinating. Thank you for bringing it all to us. Love Judy

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