I'm going to admit right off that I've never been to Burma, and I don't think I've even had these noodles at a restaurant before so I'm not entirely sure what it's supposed to taste like, but when I saw this recipe for Burmese Noodle Bowl on Food52, I knew I had to try it. From my one experience with Burmese noodles (made by my friend Alvin), the flavor profile seems pretty authentic: lots of aromatics like onions and a mineral earthiness from turmeric.
The first step to making the curry sauce is to make a paste with onions, garlic, and ginger. I used my food processor to do this since I didn't want my precious Vitamix smelling like onions. The food processor worked pretty well, but every time I opened the lid to scrape down the sides, a pungent flume of onion vapors would be released. So if you're the type of person that cries easily when cutting onions, you're probably going to have a bad time with this.
Since I try not to cook too much meat anymore, I decided to use tofu as the protein and add some of the chicken flavor back in with chicken broth. You can buy fried tofu from a Asian grocery store or just slice and pan fry firm tofu yourself. You can also buy fried shallots (red onions) from an Asian grocery story or slice and fry them up yourself. Since I didn't have any shrimp paste, I substituted a tablespoon of fish sauce and some chickpea flour to thicken the sauce. I decided to use yellow Chinese noodles instead of rice noodles, but I think you could also use ramen noodles or even udon noodles if you wanted. Lastly, I omitted the cilantro topping since I consider it the devil's weed, but if you like that sort of thing, you should definitely add it.
Burmese Coconut Noodles with Tofu (adapted from Food52) serves 3-4
2 medium onions
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
14 oz. chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
1 tablespoon chickpea flour (optional)
14 oz. can coconut milk
12 oz. noodles
3 eggs, boiled and chopped
Kosher salt and chili powder, to taste
1 lime, quartered
Peel and roughly chop the onions and garlic. Add the onions, garlic, ginger, and fish sauce to a food processor and process into a paste.
Add the canola and sesame oil to a large pot and heat over medium heat. Add the paste and cook for several minutes until it starts to get dry and the rawness of the onion is gone. Add the turmeric and chili powder and mix.
Whisk the chickpea flour, if using, into the chicken broth. Add the broth and coconut milk to the pot and mix. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the noodles according to the manufacturer's instructions, and prepare the rest of the toppings. Taste the curry sauce and add salt and/or chili powder, to taste.
Divide the noodles into 3 bowls, ladle the curry sauce over the noodles, and top with tofu, fried shallots, and the egg. Serve with the lime slices, cilantro, and additional fish sauce and chili powder, if you like.