Thanks to Miang Kham I have a newfound respect for simplicity. When I saw Chef Heidi Fink put this together at the beginning of her Thai cooking class I thought: “Ok, it’s lettuce with a bunch of little things.” Simply put, I wasn’t overly impressed. But when I put that little bundle of goodness in my mouth and started chewing, I was completely blown away as the different flavours and textures started exploding in my mouth. I could almost hear the little lettuce-bundle saying: “What do you think of me now?” and I felt like saying: “I think you’re simply amazing!”.
Ingredients for the Miang Sauce (Naam Miang):
1/4 cup minced galangal (fresh or frozen and thawed out)
1/4 minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup minced shallots
2 tablespoons shrimp paste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 cup of water
1 1/2 disks palm sugar (about 6 tablespoons)
Ingredients for the Miang Kham:
1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
1/4 cup toasted unsweetened shredded coconut (to toast just place the shredded coconut on a skillet over medium heat for a couple of minutes, stirring often, being careful not to burn it)
Fresh ginger, peeled and cut into tiny cubes (about 1/4-inch)
1 small shallot or 1/2 a large one, peeled and cut into tiny cubes (about 1/4-inch)
1 lime (whole, with the skin on), cut into tiny cubes (about 1/4-inch)
2 Thai bird chilies, thinly sliced
1 head of butter lettuce (or red leaf lettuce), leaves washed, ribs removed, and torn into pieces the size of the palm of your hand.
(Note: the original recipe calls for 1/2 cup dried shrimp too, but I decided to skip that).
Begin preparing the Miang sauce by pounding the galangal, ginger and shallots into a paste using a mortar and pestle. Transfer the paste into a small pot and add the shrimp paste, fish sauce, water and palm sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook at a gentle simmer for about 20 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool. (This sauce can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to 1 week). Warning: at first the strong smell may be a tiny bit off-putting, but trust me, it will taste amazing, so just open those windows while you’re cooking it 😉
While the sauce cools, prepare the ingredients for the Miang Kham. Place the lettuce pieces on a plate, bring the bowl of Miang sauce to the table, and place all the other ingredients in small bowls or in small piles on a plate or platter, and let the fun begin!
Place a piece of lettuce on the palm of your hand and add a little bit of everything, like so:
Then top off with a bit of the Miang sauce, like so:
Finally wrap it up in a tight little bundle that can fit in your mouth, start chewing and get ready to experience the many flavours of Thailand in one bite!