Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Request From Middle Hawthorne - Miang Kham.

Not too long ago,
I found this "recipe"
scribbled down by Middle Hawthorne.
Looks like it's something I'd like.
Perhaps Thai?

I asked Middle Hawthorne about it
and yes, he had it at a Thai restaurant,
and would I make it for him.

Well, certainly.
I'd be happy too.
I just need more information, please.

 He texted me with the name of the appetizer -
miang kham.

What is miang kham?
It's Thai street food,
the sort of thing that is sold in every Thai market.
It's a leaf-wrapped bundle of the tastes of Thailand

- heat, spice, saltiness, tartness, sourness, and sweetness -
all in one neat bite.

It involves wrapping little tidbits of condiments
in a leaf along with a sweet and salty syrup.

 I turned to my copy of Ruth Reichl's book,
Comfort Me With Apples.

Each chapter ends with a recipe.
I reread the chapter on Bangkok.
When Reichl traveled to Bangkok,
she returned home with a recipe given to her
by a wonderful Thai chef named Boonchoo Pholatawarna
and it was a recipe for miang kam.
(It's sometimes spelled kham, other times kam.)

Many thanks to Glowria
for picking up the dried shrimp for me
when she was in Virginia Beach.

 First, I'm making a syrup
which will be drizzled over
the leaf containing all the condiments.

For the syrup:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 TB Asian fish sauce
2 tsp peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 TB roasted salted peanuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted

Whisk water and sugar in small saucepan.
Bring to boil, stirring occasionally,
until reduced by half,
about 5-6 minutes.
Remove pan from heat
and stir in the fish sauce, ginger, peanuts, and coconut.
Transfer to a serving bowl.

 Mix water and sugar.

 Minced ginger,
toasted coconut,
chopped peanuts.

 And the fish sauce.

 Whisk water and sugar mixture to dissolve.

 Mark level of liquid.

 Bring to a boil.
Stir occasionally until reduced by half.

 Add in fish sauce.

 Stir in the ginger, peanuts, and coconut.
 Sauce is ready.

 Next, I'm preparing the condiments
for my lettuce leaf.
 This is what dried shrimp looks like.

 Condiments for the packets:
1/4 cup minced dried shrimp
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut, toasted
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion and shallot
1/4 cup finely chopped and peeled fresh ginger
1/4 cup roasted salted peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped serrano chilies
 1 lime cut into little triangles
1 head Boston lettuce
(Reichl's recipe called for butter lettuce leaves.
I only found Boston.)

Traditionally, in Thailand,
the leaf used for wrapping these little bundles
is a wild pepper leaf, known as bai cha plu.
Some vendors erroneously describe this leaf as "betel leaf."
Betel leaf is bai plu.
The two leaves are both members of the pepper genus,
botanically, "Piper."
Betel leaf is Piper betel.
Bai cha plu is Piper sarmentosum.

 These are betel leaves or bai plu.
These leaves are generally used for chewing
and have a bitter and unpleasant medicinal taste.

 Stained teeth of regular betel chewers.

Betel leaf is a known human carcinogen,
but hey, it's euphoric.


This is bai cha plu.
It's unavailable to me
so I'm using Boston lettuce.

 I cut the limes into tiny wedges.
Middle Hawthorne says you eat
the peel and pith too.

Minced dried shrimp.

 Minced serranos.

 Chopped red onion and shallot.
 Minced fresh ginger.

 Finely chopped peanuts.

Toasted coconut.

 I'm ready to assemble Miang Kam.

 Add some of each condiment in the leaf.

 Pour a little of the syrup over top.

  Fold lettuce into a little pocket bundle.
  And pop the whole thing in your mouth.

 This is delightful.

It's what I call fun food.
All the myriad ingredients combine
to give your taste buds a lovely experience -
from the tanginess of lime with zest,
the rich flavors of toasted coconut,
the saltiness of the peanut,
to the pungent bursts of hot chilies and spicy ginger.

What's that sound????
Not to worry.
It's the explosion of flavors in my mouth
and it's a very good thing.


Lori K said...

is the dried shrimp salty???

Rosie Hawthorne said...

It was neither salty nor fishy. Added a nice je ne sais quoi.

Lori K said...

very interesting!!!

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Try it Lori.
Your mouth will be happy!