Mandalay Mee Shay is popular Burmese rice noodles served with meat sauce and arrays of toppings. There are several varieties of mee shay in Burma and Mandalay Mee Shay has a bit more toppings compare to another mee shay.
Despite of living in one of the Southeast Asian countries, Indonesia, and the fact that ten countries in Southeast Asia – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam are united under the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or known as A.S.E.A.N, I have to admit that I haven’t tasted the popular food in some of the other Southeast Asian countries. So, I’m very excited to embark on another one of our kitchen journey to Myanmar or known as Burma.
Burma is bordered by India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand. So, I guess you can imagine already how that geographic location has impacted the cooking in Burma. Burma is populated by myriad of ethnic minorities and that offers wide range of regional flavors as well. Burmese categorize their country into three different regions: Lower Burma, Middle Burma, and Upper Burma. Each region’s cuisine is also affected by its geographical location.
Mandalay is the second-largest city and the last royal capital of Burma. It is the economic hub of Upper Burma. Mandalay mee shay is a specialty of Mandalay. This noodle dish combines meat sauce with noodles and lots of garnishes on the side. There are several different types of mee shay, however, the most popular is the Mandalay mee shay, which is more elaborate compared to other mee shay.
What really stood out to me of this Mandalay mee shay was the addition of the cornstarch jelly as one of the garnishes for the mee shay, which was made by simply mixing cornstarch and water and cooked them until they turn translucent and jelly-like. I usually use cornstarch as a thickener for sauces. So, this is definitely new to me, but in a good way.
The cornstarch jelly just picks up the taste from all the sauces you put on the noodle. The star anise also really flavor up the noodle. One star anise definitely goes a long way and sometimes it can overwhelm the whole dish if you put too many, but this is a good balance. I like noodles with lots of “sides” and when you stir to combine everything before you eat, every ingredient works together to deliver you a wonderful mee shay!!!!!
Recipe and some of the facts about Burma are adapted from The Food of Burma by Claudia Saw Lwin Robert.
Mandalay Mee Shay
- 1 lb medium thick rice noodles
- 1/4 cup cooking oil
- 1 star anise
- 1 small onion thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 lb pork shoulder/butt diced
- 2 roma tomatoes diced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup water
Toppings and condiments:
- 5 Tbsp corn starch + 1 cup water
- 1 water
- 2 cups bean sprouts blanched in boiling water for 10 seconds and then run through cold water
- 4 Tbsp fermented bean paste (tau cheo)
- 1 cup pickled mustard greens/daikon roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup roasted peanuts chopped
- Fish sauce to taste
- Crispy fried garlic
- Fresh coriander leaves
- 2 stalks green onion finely chopped
- Hard-boiled eggs halved or quartered
- Red chili flakes optional
Cook the rice noodles in boiling water for few minutes until soft. Drain off water and rinse with cold water and set aside
Heat oil in a pan and saute star anise for 2 minutes. Add onion and garlic to the oil and saute for 5 minutes until fragrant. Add pork and stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Add in tomato and salt. Stir-fry for another minute then add water, cover and cook over medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Have a taste and add more salt if needed. Remove the star anise prior to serving
Prepare the toppings by mixing the cornstarch powder with water. Put them in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until mixture started to bubble and thickened. Set aside. Blanch the bean sprouts in boiling water for about 30 seconds
Place 1 Tbsp beansprouts, 1 tsp fermented bean paste, about 1-2 Tbsp fermented mustard leaves, 1/2 tsp of fish sauce and 1 tsp ground peanuts on each individual serving platter. Add the noodles in and stir everything to combine. Add in about 3-4 Tbsp of the meat sauce over the noodles and 1 Tbsp cornstarch jelly. Sprinkle fresh coriander, green onion, crispy garlic, chili flakes and fish sauce over the noodles. Mix well just before you ready to eat. Add in some hard-boiled eggs. You can also have all the toppings on the side and let your guests dress their own noodles
At the time I made this Mandalay Mee Shay I did not have a medium thick rice noodles and I just use regular thin rice noodles. The rice noodle used in Vietnamese Bun Bo Hue is definitely a perfect thickness for this Mee Shay. It is usually labeled as "Gui Lin Rice Noodles" and you'll see the word "Bun Bo Hue" on the package too