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Andrea Nguyen

Robyn, the black sticky rice has a nice balance of amylopectin so of course it would remain crispy on the outside. Man, those look out of this world!

Don't know about the thin rice noodles under the soy bean flour. Does it take lots of huajiao oil to make it numbingly tasty...? I assume that the flour paste was toasty in flavor?


Amylopectin? Andrea, you've lost me there. I'm betting this is knowledge gained by making hundreds of rice flour dumplings? But seriously, what an amazing texture! Creamy and crackly.

And yes, that dish may not look wonderful, but it is really tasty. Yes, the flour paste is a bit nutty and toasty, and when you mix in the huajiao oil and other seasonings - wow. Like a wonderfully well-seasoned bowl of 'creamy rice soup'. :)


Hi Robyn! The "creamy soup" is definitely made with gram flour, NOT soybean flour. It's called "tohpu nway" - literally "warm tofu" - but Shan/Burmese tofu is not the same as traditional tofu/beancurd.

I have a video of the different types of tohpu including tohpu nway here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5ovBnmdjbU

The rice doughnuts are called "mohnt letgowk", meaning "bracelet cakes" and the molasses are made from jaggery.


I suppose you could make tophu nway from soy bean ( you can make it from rice flour as well AFAIK ) but it wouldn't be that yellowish colour unless it was made from gram flour or yellow split pea.

Jesse Damon

I hope I'm not too off-topic here, but have been following this site with bated breath since I stumbled across it several months ago. I ate breakfast from a street vendor in that neighborhood nearly a year ago, and was never able to find out the name of what I ate. It was a bag of triangular pastries, savory and flaky and almost meltingly tender, that came with a smaller bag of sauce with the consistency and flavor of a south Indian coconut chutney. I assumed this was a Ciin Haw dish and have been on a quest to know more about it; I ate it sitting on the curb near the river, and it was hands down one of the best things I ate in Chiang Mai.


mojinga (sp) in thailand?? what a treat! it all looks sooo delicious... we are off to hanoi in a couple of days- wonder if any of these treats will be in hanoi or northern laos?


Reading this post makes me want to buy an air ticket to Chiang Mai right now. Yum!!!

tin man

Well I love this food, reminds me of the Wizard of Oz in so many ways, just click your heels three times.

Some blogs post the comment right away, I never use a blog that says comments have to be approved. So a system needs to be worked out by way of tin can for that.

Well this is a great example of a new way and angle to the joys of food.

Will wait for this great food.

It looks fantastic, I am worried about my hunger. Is she safe inside. Always trust in spirit for cooking . Going to sleep well if I could eat this for a meal.

I know hunger is shadowed by a poor cook, but this here is the best.

Know how much I love this food, so much so much

When I left this comment, I was afraid of spam so I put in a fake email address, hope no one minds me having to do that.

Enjoyed this article so much so much, Look forward to eating this kind of creation in a driving rainstorm snug inside to hear the rain drops.


I like this market very much as well. It sounds like it's expanded quite a bit since I was there last -- I can't recall that variety of dishes.

Meemalee caught me on that before as well, I believe. Other than being made from gram bean flour, in fact I suspect the dish is Burmese, not Shan. There are several Shan women who sell this dish in Mae Hong Song's morning market (I've been eating it for breakfast for a month now), and they all claim that it's Burmese, not Tai. Here it's served with rice noodles, deep-fried cubes of the gram flour 'cake' (which are astonishingly similar in taste and texture to fast-food french fries, but in a good way), and topped with ground white sesame, MSG, tamarind, sweet soy sauce, garlic oil, chili oil and coriander.

The donuts, on the other hand, I think are indeed Shan, are called khanom wong ('round sweets'), and are ubiquitous in Mae Hong Son, although I've yet to try them hot from the wok...



Robyn, Dena, not "mojinga" or "mohynga" but "mohinga":


ZAungZ, yes, there is a white tohpu made of rice called "hsan tahpo" (rice tofu) but it's even less like mainstream beancurd.

You can see hsan tahpo about one minute into my Tohpu video:



Hi Austin,

Tohpu nway (or even tohpu itself) is not Thai Tai, but it's definitely Burmese Tai (ie Shan).

It's actually one of the most famous Shan dishes in Burma.

I've even had it in a Shan restaurant in Tokyo - photo here:


More Shan food photos here:


Steve Jackson

Just gorgeous. Beautiful photos.

Gotta get back to Asia.


Good Morning September, that is the time of year this food reminds me of, I have no other place to hang out and read on recipes except for this blog for now.

Want to take a print out of this and take it to my lunch place.

Somewhere over the rainbow food like this is found, the blue birds can find it but why oh why can't I.

Well thinking of you, Great blog.


Hi meemalee - thanks, I remember you and I had an email exchange about that earlier. It's a great dish. The sugar used for the donuts may be jaggery, but it's from cane, not coconut (in India at least jaggery can be from either). Either way, those donuts are incredible!

ZAungZ - I was wondering about that, making it from soy flour. You could always add a bit of turmeric for color.

Jesse - I wonder if it was the deep-fried 'soy' that Austin refers to. We ate these in a 'salad' in Mae Hong Son.

Austin - the Yunnanese vendor in Chiang Mai insisted it's Shan. Perhaps there's some misunderstanding as to whether by 'Burmese' they mean Burmese Shan (versus Shan from Thailand, Yunnan, or elsewhere). And the donuts may be ubiquitous in Mae Hong Son, but they were absent from the morning market last wknd - we made a stop entirely for some of those treats and I was sorely disappointed not to find any.

Thanks, Steve!


Great photos and great food. They really make me want to leave home and travel. I would like that so much, so much.
The pickled banana tree trunk sounds so interesting. I'm sure I would love it as I enjoy rare treats. All of this food is making me so hungry!

Scare Crow

Great Sight, ADD nothing else as it is perfect. So clever the recipe. Are you hinting of a magic wand in the making of these rare treats. They are the best and it is magic because we can not get this in the states, so rare indeed as it is magic to communicate this food as art.

Nice to see the season.



You may be able to answer this burning question I have. I usually make my Shan noodles by topping vermicelli with a tomato based sauce w/ chicken and tophu nway. However, I've made and tasted another variation where there is also a tomato sauce but chicken stock is used instead of tophu nway. I always wondered which one is the more authentic. Now this version posted seems like it doesn't even have a sauce. It just has tophu nway. From your experience, which one would you say is more authentic?


It could very well be Shan then -- deep-fried triangles of the stuff are sold everywhere around here. Incidentally, virtually every time I'm eating that stuff (it's called thua oon here, 'warm beans') Thai tourists ask the vendor if it's made from soybeans, and she always tells them yes. Once I asked her if it was really made from soybeans, and she said no, and carefully explained what they're made from... The joys of communication in Thailand...

And actually khanom wong can be found at a couple stalls at the morning market here, but they're made ahead of time and stuffed into plastic bags and are rather unpleasant as a result. They're sold relatively fresh at the evening market though, something I'll be blogging about soon, I think.


Great post, awesome photos - took me right back to Thailand. Found you on the Times list and glad I did!


"Thai tourists ask the vendor if it's made from soybeans, and she always tells them yes. Once I asked her if it was really made from soybeans, and she said no, and carefully explained what they're made from... The joys of communication in Thailand..."

Path of least resistance, Austin :)

Zaw, I'll get back to you about Shan Khao Swe (I will have to ask my mother!)

Scare Crow

Great Food, we need to make a youtube video, just replace the picture of the people with food and it would be great.



I'm sure the yellow "tofu" whether in the guise of warm gloopy nway or fried in crispy triangles is originally a "Shan" and more specifically a "Burmese Shan" variation of "Chinese" soy bean curd . I what point it , evolved and why a different legume was used who knows! What I do know is that in Upper Burma ( Mandalay area , Shan states , Kachin state ) at least it's generally and widely available and just seen as "Burmese".


Hi Zaw - well, I've asked my mother and she says that they're all variations on a theme!

Some people are allergic to tohpu or just don't like the stickiness of tohpu nway, so they'll ask for Shan khao swe without it, and some people avoid the chicken sauce because they're vegetarian - in which case they'll often top with pea shoots instead. They can all claim to be authentic versions.

Of course, I like it with everything :)


The molasses here are definitely jaggery ("hta nyet" in Burmese) from the toddy or palmyra palm (Borassus flabellifer) not cane ("jan thaga" in Burmese). Shredded coconut mixed in jaggery is a common sweet in Burma but no jaggery ever made from coconut.

Purple sticky rice ("nga cheik" in Burmese) flour is used here instead of the white kind in the Burmese "mohnt letgowk" served not immersed in the molasses but in a separate dish to dip on the side.

You can't make "tohpu nway" from soy or rice flour, only from split yellow pea (original Shan) or gram flour (Burmese cheat for convenience). Turmeric won't impart the uniform matte yellow colour.


Who would have thought this post would generate so many comments?

Alex - thanks and welcome to EatingAsia.

Addy - banana trunk is used all over SE Asia. We've eaten it everywhere from Hanoi to the Philippines. It's especially nice fresh.

ZAungZ - I guess I'd want to know 'seen as Burmese' by whom? The Shan cooks we met tended to call Shan dishes 'Shan', to distinguish them from Burmese dishes (or Chinese, for Yunnanese Shan). And I would venture to guess that the use of gram flour may well be attributed to Indian influence... purely speculation on my part.

Wagaung - the jaggery used to make this sweet in Burma may be from palmyra palm but in this case (in Chiang Mai) the molasses is made from namtaan ooi, which is brown sugar from cane. Namtaan ooi seems to be used more widely in N Thailand than palm sugar. We also picked up, nearer the Thai-Burmese border, a variation on the theme of the sweet you refer to ... made from brown cane sugar, shredded coconut, peanuts, and ground sesame seeds. Delicious!

We also found a variation of the donuts made with white sticky rice - only drizzled with molasses instead of dipped in it. Good, but not as good as (they were also cold).

And many of the Shan vendors selling tophu nway also sold a white 'tophu nway' made with rice flour. It was used in the same way (but not deep-fried) - somewhat tasteless compared to the yellow tophu nway.

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