With many early starts in Yangon, it was essential to eat well for the day ahead – and there was one delicious Burmese breakfast that I couldn’t resist: Mohinga.
Mohinga is a rice noodle and fish soup and is an essential part of Myanmar cuisine. It is in fact the national dish of Myanmar! In major cities, street hawkers and roadside stalls sell dozens of dishes of mohinga to the locals and tourists like myself. Although Mohinga is available throughout the day, I always loved tucking into a bowl for breakfast each morning, before my adventures in the former Myanmar capital continued!
The main ingredients of mohinga are chickpea flour, crushed toasted rice, garlic, onions, lemongrass, banana tree stem, and ginger, with the actual fish (catfish is my favourite type of fish for mohinga) cooked in a rich broth and kept on the boil in a cauldron. It is served with rice vermicelli, dressed and garnished with fish sauce, a squeeze of lime, crispy fried onions, and pieces of the Chinese snack You Tiao, which I was very surprised to see readily available in Yangon.
Burmese people take great pride in their food, although as you can imagine due to the poverty of the nation sometimes their utensils and hardware are somewhat lacking. However, it’s the ingredients and recipes here that separate the wheat from the chaff, and strolling around downtown Yangon early in the mornings give you a good choice of hawkers from which to choose to buy your breakfast. Sometimes I was only looking for a Mama Dosa (which is like an Indian-influenced crepe), but I think once you try mohinga you keep coming back for more and more!
Street hawkers are the original purveyors of mohinga and their friendly presence as well as their delightfully delicious soups mean that they have regular customers (like me!). They carry the soup cauldron on a stove on one side of a shoulder pole and rice vermicelli and other ingredients along with bowls and spoons on the other.
Usually I am not much of a breakfast person when I am travelling, and I would never have thought that I would ever be eating fish soup for breakfast in a decrepit car park in Yangon, but hey, travelling is all about enjoying new experiences, right?