Tea Leaf Salad 6.000
Nov 30, 2011

This is a no-cook dish for which Burmese households almost always have the ingredients on hand. According to some Burmese cookbooks, it is eaten as a snack, as a standard welcome for house guests and anytime someone needs to be especially alert; the fermented/pickled tea leaves in the mix are that powerful. This slaw-type salad has slight crunch and a slightly sweet-sour taste. It can be mixed in with rice for a quick meal or used as a side at just about any meal.

There are lots of ways to make it, including starting with a kit that contains separate packages of the tea leaves and mixed fried beans with peanuts. Some versions call for fresh bird's-eye chili pepper and garlic. We found those and the special ingredients below (as noted) at the Myanmar store in Falls Church (703-289-0013; next to the restaurant) and at Hmart locations.

Make Ahead: The salad can be refrigerated for up to 1 day but it is best eaten the same day it is made; serve in small portions.

Servings: 6 - 8

Yield: Makes 5 1/2 to 6 cups

  • Scant 6 ounces mixed fried beans (see headnote)
  • Generous 1 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts, preferably Spanish, skin-on peanuts
  • 1 1/2 cups packed, finely shredded green cabbage
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and cut into very thin slices
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp powder (available at Asian markets; see NOTE)
  • 1 tablespoon to 1/4 cup pickled tea leaves (see headnote)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • Fish sauce
  • Lime wedges, for serving (optional)


Combine the fried beans, peanuts, cabbage, tomato, shrimp powder, tea leaves (to taste) and oil in a mixing bowl; toss to mix well. Taste, and season with the fish sauce. Let sit for at least 20 minutes before serving so the flavors meld. Toss before serving.

If desired, serve with lime wedges for sprinkling.

NOTE: The powder can be used as a seasoning for rice, salads and stews. You can grind your own shrimp powder from dried shrimp.

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Recipe Source

Based on a recipe from Khin Khin Ei, a broadcaster in the Burmese service of Radio Free Asia in Washington.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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