(Ngar Si Byan)

Although Myanmar has a long coastline, touching the Andaman Sea, the Burmese eat much more freshwater fish than saltwater. This recipe works well with either type; buy whatever is freshest at the market that day.

Yield: serves 4-6


  • 1 árbol or other hot dried red chile, stemmed
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 small yellow onions, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 (2″-piece) ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 14 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 lb. thick, skinless, boneless, firm white-fleshed fish such as catfish, grouper, or cod, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 6 green bird’s-eye chiles, stemmed
  • 2 tbsp. fish sauce
  • Salt
  • 12 bunch cilantro, trimmed


  1. Finely crush dried chile with a mortar and pestle and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a wok or a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and stir-fry until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, tomatoes, paprika, turmeric, and crushed dried chiles and stir-fry until tomatoes become saucy and oil rises to the surface, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add fish and fresh chiles to wok and stir-fry until fish begins to turn opaque, 2–3 minutes. Add fish sauce, 2 tbsp. water, and salt to taste and simmer, stirring occasionally, until fish is cooked through, 4–5 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Serve at room temperature, garnished with cilantro.