Burmese tofu is a food of Shan origin, made from water and flour ground from yellow split peas and the Burmese version of chickpea flour, also known as besan flour, in a fashion similar to polenta. The flour is mixed with water, turmeric, and a little salt and heated, stirring constantly, until it reaches a creamy consistency. It is then transferred into a tray and allowed to set. It is matte yellow in colour, jelly-like but firm in consistency.
Varieties and etymology
- Pè bya refers to Chinese tofu and is translated into ‘beancurd’ in English in Myanmar. Stinky tofu or the fermented form of tofu, however, is called si to hpu, probably a version of the Chinese word chòu dòufu.
- Won ta hpo is the yellow form of tofu made from yellow split peas or zadaw bè in Shan State.
- To hpu gyauk or dried tofu is yellow tofu sliced into a long thin rectangular form and dried in the sun. They are similar to fish or prawn crackers and sold in bundles.
- To hpu made from chickpea (kala bè) flour or pè hmont is the common version in mainland Burma. It has the same yellow colour and taste but slightly firmer than Shan tofu.
- Hsan ta hpo is still mainly confined to Shan regions, made from rice flour called hsan hmont or mont hmont, and is white in colour. It has the same consistency but slightly different in taste. It is as popular as the yellow form as a salad.
- To hpu gyaw is yellow tofu cut into rectangular shapes, scored in the middle, and deep fried. Tofu fritters may be eaten with a spicy sour dip, or cut and made into a salad. They are crispy outside and soft inside.
- Hnapyan gyaw is so called because the fritters are “twice fried” after the tofu is cut into triangular shapes. It is the traditional form in the Shan States.
- To hpu gyauk kyaw or deep fried tofu crackers, like hnapyan gyaw, are usually served with htamin gyin (lit. “sour rice” balls kneaded together with tomato and fish or potato), another popular Shan dish.
Fried tofu goes very well with kau hnyin baung (glutinous rice) as a breakfast option, and also with mohinga (rice vermicelli in fish soup) or rice noodles called hsan hkauk swè, especially Shan hkauk swè. Green tea is the preferred traditional drink to go with all these in Burma.