Chef Orng column: Mushrooms and mangoes

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MYANMORE Chef of the Year 2018 award winner Chef Orng mulls the fresh produce brought by the first rains of the year.

After the grind of the last few months, our team welcomed the Thingyan break. It was the first time since, well, the last Thingyan that I had a few days to reflect on things, like the new restaurant, and plan for the challenges ahead. One of these challenges is
figuring out a way to protect the restaurant when the monsoon blows in. Lining the terrace overlooking our private lake with a bamboo curtain is an option. But the rains don’t just bring problems—they also bring fresh, wonderful produce.

I spent the holidays on my family’s farm, about 15 kilometers from Mawlamyine in Mon State, where we grow durian, jackfruit, mangosteen and other tropical fruits. Some of the seasonal produce such as mangoes are already growing, while others are on their way. Wild mushrooms will be popping up in the forests of Mon and Karen states by the time this goes to print. I can’t wait to get my hands on these mushrooms, and start cooking with them. We can make creamy risotto, or chicken and mushroom sauce. We can use them in starters. You can do so much with a nice mushroom.

During the colder months of November and December in Kachin and Shan states, you get a lot of good vegetables, but for Lower Burma, just after Thingyan is a great time. When the rain comes you get good shrimp, clam and snails. This time of the year you’ll see mangoes everywhere. Expect to see them in some of our dishes, too. There are hundreds of types of mango, varying in color, taste, shape and size. When they’re unripe and green, you want to use them for salads, salsa, chutney, pickles; things like that. We’ll be making mango chutney and pickling the fruit, but we’ll use the ripe ones for homemade ice cream and panna cotta. You have to choose your mango carefully as the taste of a dish can be completely different depending on the variety you use. Our kitchen will have about five or six different types that will be spread across desserts and mains. In fact, as I write this one huge case of mangoes is on its way to our kitchen.

This month we will have some special cocktail nights and a fantastic selection of Californian wine as well as quality locally produced steak by Marbled Black. Keep an eye on our Facebook page @OrngKitchen for updates.

Orng Kitchen – Green Acres Residence Compound, 1 U Sein Maung Lane, Kone Myint Yeik Thar Street, (Off Highland Avenue), 7 miles, Mayangone Township
Phone number: 09771195020
Opening: 12pm-3pm
 / 6pm–10pm (Closed Monday)

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