Miang Kham, a traditional Thai snack food, translates as ‘little mouthfuls’. This is by far my student’s favorite in my Small Bites from Around the World cooking class, even though it’s the simplest recipe to make. All that’s required is a little gathering of ingredients, a little toasting of dried coconut, some chopping of shallot and lime, and a quick simmer for the sauce. Watch your guests a few seconds after they pop one of these babies into their mouths. A taste explosion will transform their face into the most surprised pleasure of hot, sour, salty, sweet. Make sure you have the recipe on hand because that’s what they will request immediately afterwards.
Since each person crafts their own Miang Kham to their personal taste by selecting each ingredient for their lettuce leaf, individual preferences can be accommodated. Hate cilantro, skip it. Have taste buds impervious to the heat of hot peppers, add more. Peanut allergy, substitute cashews.
Traditionally galangal and wild pepper leaves are are used but are incredibly difficult to find in the markets unless you’re lucky to live near a Thai grocery. Here we’ll save ourselves the extra trouble and substitute Boston lettuce for the wild pepper leaves and just leave out the galangal. Oh, what’s galangal, you ask? Here’s my post on The Ginger Family that explains this unusual flavor. As to the third missing ingredient, we’re not going to talk about dried shrimp on this vegetarian blog. To each their own.
- 24 leaves of lettuce, spinach, chard, kale or endive
- ½ cup finely chopped shallots, red onion or green onions
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh ginger
- ½ cup coarsely chopped unsalted, roasted peanuts
- ½ cup cilantro leaves
- ½ cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- For the Sauce:
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1” piece ginger, finely chopped
- ½” piece galangal, finely chopped (optional)
- 2 tablespoons palm or light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
- 1 3-inch stalk of lemongrass
- 1 dried cayenne pepper, optional
- Place each individual ingredient in a bowl for serving.
- To make the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté shallot, garlic, ginger and galangal for 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients and a little water if needed to form a thick sauce. Simmer for 3 minutes, until thickened.
- To serve, fill a lettuce leaf with a small amount of each ingredient, top with sauce and a squeeze of lime. Roll up and pop into your mouth.
My Small Bites from Around the World class requires the most prep time than any of my other classes. Since this is the easiest for everyone to assemble, it’s first in the line-up. Everything pales by comparison for the rest of the 3 1/2 hours.