Miang Kham (HAAN PALCU-CHANG/Globe and Mail Update)
I live in Toronto. I love it. Sometime last December, though, as I walked into a great wall of freezing rain, I had a sudden and rather life-changing epiphany: Toronto would be an even better place to live if I was never there for the winter. I promptly got on a plane to Chiang Mai and spent two months eating my way around the north of Thailand.
One of the most ubiquitous street snacks I found during my journeys is something called miang kham. It’s a sweet, salty and sour bite that usually consists of dried shrimp, ginger, lime, peanuts, coconut, chili and shallots coated in tamarind dressing. The Thais eat this as a snack. In a Canadian context, though, I think it makes for a show-stopping canapé.
Ingredients to make it can be found in any Vietnamese, Thai or Cantonese market. I’ve written this recipe in grams because the balance of ingredients is key, especially if Thai food is something you are not in the habit of making. It’s worth bringing out a digital scale. The ingredient list may be intimidating but preparation is rather simple and everything except for the shallots can be done three to four days in advance.
- Servings: 20, as canapés
600 grams peeled prawns
50 grams toasted shredded coconut
15 grams lime, finely diced (rind, flesh and all)
90 grams shallot, finely diced
½ bunch coriander leaves, roughly chopped
6 bird eye chilies, finely sliced
90 grams dried shrimp, blended in a food processor until broken down into easily chewable pieces
45 grams ginger, finely diced
45 grams galangal, finely diced
45 grams toasted peanuts, crushed
70 grams water
70 grams fish sauce
70 grams tamarind water (can be bought prepared at market)
60 to 70 bitter leaves (if you cannot find, use bib lettuce)
Put a saucepan of water over high heat. Bring to a boil and add the prawns. When they are cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes, remove and let cool on plate or tray. Roughly chop prawns into the same size as the other filling ingredients.
Mix the prawns with all the other filling ingredients and set aside.
Mix the sauce ingredients together until sugar is dissolved. It should taste predominantly sweet, then salty, then sour.
Stir the sauce into the filling mixture one spoonful at a time. You may not need all of it. Taste. Add sauce until it is seasoned to your liking.
Place a tablespoon of filling on each leaf and serve immediately.