The cooks at Myit Sone, a Kachin restaurant in Rangoon, taught me this wonderful version of chicken-rice soup. Instead of starting with whole rice, as most chicken-rice soups do, the Kachin use toasted rice powder. The powder, a common ingredient in Kachin dishes, is a pantry staple you can easily make yourself. It has a seductive toasted-grain aroma, and it gives the soup a thickened texture that’s a real pleasure. The Karen have a similar porridge-like soup, khao beue, made of toasted rice simmered in a pork broth.
This recipe calls for soy sauce as well as salt; long ago, the Kachin would not have had soy sauce, but years of trade across the border between Kachin State and Yunnan Province in China mean that soy sauce is now a part of many Kachin cooks’ pantries.
Pour 2cups of the water into a large pot and place over medium heat. Add the rice powder and stir thoroughly to blend it into the water. Add the remaining 3cups water and the ginger and bring to a boil. Add the chicken, soy sauce, and salt and bring back to a boil, then cover and lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or so, until the chicken is tender and the flavors have had time to blend.
If the soup is thicker than you want, add more hot water and stir in. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary.
Serve plain, or top it with chopped fresh herbs, as you please.