August 13, 2009

Vegetarian Mohingar

A common complaint about Southeast Asian food is that it’s vegetarian unfriendly. The mainland Theravada countries are typically poor players in the league of leaf eaters, with meat or fish product forming an indispensable ingredient to almost every dish. Vegetarianism becomes a renunciation of certain cuisines entirely. Countering this stereotype, a number of vegan Thai restaurants have been popping up in Southern California in recent years (my favorites are Bulan Thai, the Wheel of Life and My Vegan). But when it comes to Burmese or Khmer cuisine, it’s hard to find a good substitute for ngapi or prahok. That is, until I ran across this recipe for vegetarian mohingar. Mohingar is a classic breakfast or lunch. When working in Culver City, I would often go for a (non-vegetarian) bowl at the Burmese market in West LA. This vegetarian recipe and 99 more are all available in the Burmese cookbook Hsa*Ba. Now all I have to do is find a vegetarian prahok!

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