Explosively Flavored Savory Bites in Wild Pepper Leaves

Miang Khum

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Sweet, salty, crunchy, sour, savory and spicy. This one-bite wonder exemplifies what Thai flavors are all about: as you slowly chew on these packets, flavors explode on your palate like fireworks’ grand finale. Khum translates as mouthful and miang refers to multi-component snacks.Great for casual parties, these little morsels can be set up for guests to assemble to their own tastes. If the pepper leaves (“bai cha-ploo”) are not available, use large spinach leaves, yu choy or other bitter greens leaves that are about 2 inches (5 cm.) in diameter.

Ingredients

  • ¼ tsp. Thai shrimp paste (gkapi), toasted
  • ¾ cup Light brown palm sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. Fish sauce (nahm pla)
  • ½ tsp. Finely grated galangal
  • ½ cup Tamarind pulp
  • 30 leaves Betel (wild pepper) leaves, choy sum or large spinach leaves, large stems removed
  • 60 pieces (about ¼ cup) Halved, Peanuts, roasted in dry pan
  • 60 (about ¼ cup) Dried small shrimp, about ½ inch (1.2 cm.)
  • 4 Thai green or red bird chilies, sliced into thin rings, about inch (0.3 cm.) thick
  • 60 pieces (about ¼ cup) Lime, cut into pieces the size of a kernel of corn (skin, rind and flesh)
  • 60 pieces (about ¼ cup) Diced ginger (young ginger if possible), ¼-inch (0.6 cm.) dice
  • 60 pieces (about 3 Tbsp.) Diced shallots, ¼-inch(0.6 cm.) dice
  • ½ cup Shredded coconut, or store bought, toasted in a dry pan until browned in spots

Method

  1. Combine palm sugar, shrimp paste, fish sauce, galangal, and tamarind juice in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook until sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens into a syrup, about 5 minutes (it is important that temperature should be 235°F or 113°C). Transfer to metal or glass bowl. Note: it will thicken as it cools. This is the palm sugar sauce.
  2. Assemble the snack: Hold a leaf in the cupped palm of one hand. Spread about ½ teaspoon of palm sugar sauce on leaf. Add one or two pieces each of peanut, shrimp, chili, lime, ginger, and shallot. Finally, add a large pinch of toasted coconut.
  3. Fold into a tight bundle, pop into your mouth, and chew to start the flavor party in your mouth.

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