Festive Thai Leaf Wraps
FESTIVE THAI LEAF WRAPS Miang Kham MAKES 20 TO 30 SMALL BITES, ENOUGH FOR A PARTY OF 6 TO 8
A beautifully wrapped Thai snack bursting with savory-sweet-sour- spicy flavors, miang kham embodies much of what I love about the spirit of Thai food, which often transforms humble ingredients into magical feasts. If this recipe, adapted from Chef Jet Ti La, sounds like a lot of ingredients to pack into a little snack, that is in fact what this is— miang kham literally means “eating many things in one bite.” You can just as easily find miang kham sold by roadside vendors in little plastic bags as you can see it ceremoniously plated at Thai temple festivals.
FOR THE FILLINGS:
1 cup grated unsweetened coconut
½ cup finely diced shallots
2 whole limes, finely diced with their peel
½ cup finely diced fresh ginger
½ cup dried shrimp, finely diced
½ cup unsalted roasted peanuts
3 to 5 fresh red Thai chiles, seeded and finely diced
FOR THE SAUCE:
1 tablespoon Thai shrimp paste
½ tablespoon chopped fresh galangal
½ tablespoon chopped shallots
2 tablespoons grated unsweetened coconut
3 tablespoons dried shrimp, chopped
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 cups palm sugar
20 to 30 fresh betel nut leaves (see Note)
PREPARE THE FILLINGS: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the grated coconut on a baking sheet and bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer the toasted coconut to a small bowl.
On a large serving platter, arrange the toasted coconut, shallots, lime, ginger, dried shrimp, peanuts, and Thai chiles in individual small bowls. Set aside.
MAKE THE SAUCE: Combine the Thai shrimp paste, galangal, shallots, grated coconut, dried shrimp, ginger, fish sauce, and a couple tablespoons of water in a food processor, and process until you have a thick, smooth paste.
Heat the oil in a medium skillet set over medium heat. Cook the paste until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sugar and 1 ½ cups of water, and stir to combine. Let the mixture come to a simmer and then cook until it becomes a thick sauce, 10 to 20 minutes.
SERVE THE WRAPS: Have guests fill a betel leaf with their choice of toppings from the platter and top with a little sauce.
Note: Even at your local Asian grocery, you’re not guaranteed to find betel leaves, which are wild pepper leaves. But other peppery greens like collards or kale are excellent substitutes—just cut them down to 3-inch squares.