Shan Vegetarian Recipes


The Shan people have inhabited Southeast Asia since the 10th century A.D., having migrated south from China, and occupy a large portion of Northeast Burma, while many Tai-Shan ethnic groups remain in neighboring Thailand and Laos. The Shan people have been engaged in a civil war with the Burmese military junta for decades and have seen their villages burned and citizens repeatedly brutalized, while their royal family lives in exile. Many Shan have escaped over the border to nearby Thai provinces like Mae Hong Son, where their culinary and cultural influences can be felt, and more importantly, can be shared with the rest of the world, most of which is oblivious to their very existence.

Shan recipes draw their main influences and cooking styles from neighboring Thailand, and, of course, Burma, however there are some major differences in seasoning, preparation, and ingredients used. The Shan tend to consume more vegetable-based dishes than their Burmese and Thai counterparts, due to their relative isolation from the rivers and lakes that abound in areas that lie farther south.

Shan cuisine is unique in the region in the general lack of use of fermented fish products. Instead, thin and thick soy sauces are employed, and most importantly, hto nao, a fermented soybean product, usually sold in wafer form, are used as the main flavorings. Hto nao, which is nearly impossible to find outside Asia, can be substituted with either Thai brown bean sauce or mashed Chinese pickled soybeans. Galangal also plays a major part in the flavoring of Shan meals.

Check out the menu on your right for our list of Shan vegetarian recipes!