Mien Cuisine

Growing up in an Asian culture I’ve had a chance to try a number of unusual culinary dishes, everything from reproductive organs of the female frog to pork blood.

But what I still consider my most unusual food experience came from lunch with a college friend, who was a member of the Mien (or Yao) community. Following the meal, she served a soup that was cold, citrus-y, spicy, and filled with cooked rice flour blocks. It was a convergence of flavors and sensations that I had never experienced before, and my palette didn’t quite know what to make of it. I don’t think I had more than a few bites (probably due to the extreme spiciness).

I’ve written before about how my tastes have changed as I’ve gotten older, so I’m curious whether I would now enjoy the dish. I did a little research, and found out it’s called kaleng phen. It seems pretty easy to make, though I think I’d be wise to try it in a small batch.


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