Tasty Leaf-wrapped Tidbits – Miang Kam
A Recipe of Kasma Loha-unchit
Recipe Copyright © 2000 Kasma Loha-unchit.
Miang kam is a tasty snack often sold as street food. It involves wrapping little tidbits of several items in a leaf, along with a sweet-and-salty sauce. Chewing all the myriad ingredients together gives taste receptacles on the tongue and mouth a thrilling experience – from the rich, roasted flavors of coconut and peanut, to the tanginess of lime with zest and the pungent bursts of diced ginger and chillies. It makes a great party food.
- 1 or 2 bunches of bai cha plu (wild pepper leaves), or substitute large leaves from 1-2 bunches of spinach; or 1 head of leafy lettuce, tear leaves into 3- to 4-inch round or square pieces
- 1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
- 1/4 cup small dried shrimp
- 1/2 cup roasted unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/3 cup diced ginger (about the size of a pea)
- 1/3 cup diced shallots or onion the same size as the ginger
- 1 lime, cut into small peanut-size wedges, each with both peel and juice sacs
- 4 heads pickled garlic, stem removed and bulb cut into peanut-size pieces
- 6 serrano peppers, cut into thin half circles; or use Thai chillies ( prik kee noo), cut into thin rounds
- 1/3 cup cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup finely ground dried shrimp
- 1/2 cup roasted shredded coconut
- 1/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
- 1/4 cup palm or coconut sugar
- 2 Tbs. fish sauce (nahm bplah), or to taste
- 1/2 cup water
To roast coconut, place unsweetened fresh or dried shredded coconut in a dry cast iron pan over medium heat. Stir frequently until the coconut shreds are evenly a golden brown and very fragrant. Pickled garlic is available in jars from Southeast Asian markets.
Arrange the spinach or lettuce leaves and filling ingredients on a large serving platter, piling each separately and aesthetically for a pleasing presentation.
To make the sauce, grind the dried shrimp, roasted coconut and peanuts separately and as finely as possible in a clean coffee grinder. (For the dried shrimp, measure out 1/4 cup after the shrimp is ground.) Place in a small saucepan together with the palm sugar, fish sauce and water. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, stirring frequently to make sure all the ingredients are well blended and the sauce as smooth as possible. Cook about 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened to the consistency of light batter. Transfer to a sauce bowl and allow to cool to room temperature before using. The sauce will thicken more as it cools.
To eat, take a spinach or lettuce leaf, fill it with a little bit of everything, top with a dab of sauce, roll or wrap up, stuff the entire leaf packet into your mouth and chew everything all at once. Enjoy the explosion of flavors!
Miang Kam is often sold as a street food in Thailand in an interesting form. The vendor places four or five ingredients in the leaf, a dollop of sauce, and then wraps up the bundle and skewers it onto a stick – Miang Kam on a Stick!
The leaf used for making miang kam in Thailand is bai cha plu ("wild pepper leaves") and is much tougher than spinach. Be careful: this leaf is often erroneously called "betel leaf," which is bai plu. When purchasing it (especially from online vendors) make sure that you are purchasing bai cha plu, which the vendor may erroneously describe as "betel leaf." (See Kasma's blog entry: Miang Kam uses Bai Cha Plu NOT Betel Leaf (Bai Plu)