Burma Superstar is one of my oldie but goodie restaurants in San Francisco. There is usually a long line of people waiting to get in - with about a 45- 1 hour wait time. And it is worth it! One of my favorites is their Tea Leaf Salad which is out-of-this-world-amazing. The key to it is a dressing made out of fermented tea leaves, which legend has it is imported from Burma. Just recently, the owner started selling a DIY kit of this ultra-popular dish; however before that I craved this salad so much, I searched high and low for a dupe and finally found one from Absolutely Monica. No, the tea leaves in this recipe aren't fermented, but it does require some preparation and making a trip to your local Asian store. If you can't make it to San Francisco, this recipe comes pretty close to the real thing.
BURMESE TEA LEAF SALAD (BY ABSOLUTELY MONICA)
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup green tea leaves (Sencha)
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon Maggi seasoning
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 head romaine lettuce
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
1/3 cup fried garlic
1/3 cup sunflower seeds, unsalted
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, unsalted
1 jalapeno (optional)
1. Bring the tea leaves, white vinegar and water to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes or until soft. Rinse with cool water and remove any twigs or hard pieces from the leaves. Strain completely, squeezing the leaves to remove as much moisture as you can.
2. Put the tea leaves in a food processor and while it is running drizzle the sesame oil, olive oil, Maggi seasoning and fish sauce, scraping the sides often.
3. Process the tea leaf mixture until the leaves are finely minced. Add additional fish sauce or Maggi seasoning if you want bolder flavors. Set aside while you prepare the salad.
4. Chop the romaine lettuce and layer it on a serving platter. Remove the seeds and dice the tomatoes and pile them on top of the lettuce. Finely chop the jalapeno and remove the seeds from the lemon wedges and add these to the platter. Pile each of the remaining ingredients on the salad and spoon about half of the tea leaf mixture in the middle, reserving the other half for later. (It will keep, refridgerated for up to three weeks).
5. Just before serving, squeeze the lemon wedges over the salad, and toss everything together well, be sure to evenly distribute the tea leaves.