Wetha See Byan is a Burmese dry pork curry. Dry because there is no sauce/gravy to the curry, like is common for Thai and Indian curries. It also has a significant difference in ingredients than either of those two types of curries - the base ingredients for a Burmese curry are always onion, garlic, ginger, chili, and turmeric, though everything else can change. These ingredients are also always prepared in the same way to get the appropriate flavor, which I will describe in the recipe.

This curry is the first Burmese curry I have tried, and it took a bite or two to adjust to the flavors, as they are different than what I've been used to. However, it was incredibly delicious, and as the recipe isn't all that difficult, I've already decided that I'll be making this on a regular basis in the future. This is probably a good introduction to Burmese curries, and perhaps Burmese food in general, I would guess.

It should be served over rice, as with all curries. One may consider using coconut rice instead of regular rice, as it's richness does go well with the curry.

(Recipe originally from "The Complete Asian Cookbook", instructions changed to comply with US Copyright for Recipes.)

Wetha See Byan

Burmese Dry Pork Curry

1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 lb pork
3 tbsp light sesame oil (may use corn oil instead)
1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped (may use 2 strips lemon rind)
2 Tbsp tamarind liquid
1 Tbsp fish sauce (ngan pya ye)

Cut the pork into small bite-sized pieces. Trim any fat if necessary.

Roughly cut the onion and the garlic. Either using an Asian grinding stone, or for the more modern chef a blender or food processor, grind the ingredients to a puree. After the ingredients have been reduced to a smooth mixture, add in the chili powder and turmeric, and mix well.

Heat the oil in a saucepan, until it's hot enough to stark smoking. Add the puree mixture, and stir well to mix with the oil. Simmer covered, making sure to frequently scrape and mix, to make sure it's not sticking. Do this for at least 15 minutes, until the mixture is a rich red-brown color, with a little oil visible around the mixture, and the smell has mellowed. If it starts to stick before this occurs, add a little water, and stir well. Any water added this way will need to be completly evaporated. The term "see byan" describes this, meaning "oil returned".

Once this is done, add the pork, and simmer until it is completely tender. Add the lemongrass, tamarind juice, and fish sauce and stir well. Continue to cook until all the water is cooked out of the curry.

Serve over rice.

The cook may optionally wish to add more chili powder to make it spicier (as it's not inherently spicy), or use some hot Indian mango pickle. It may also be garnished with lemon slices, cilantro, or green onions at the end of cooking.

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