Monday, May 16, 2011

Miang Kham

I pulled this book off my shelf tonight to read before bed, and as you can imagine from the above photo, it did the opposite of lull me to sleep. No, delving into "Pacific and Southeast Asian Cooking" from Time Life's 1970s "Foods of the World" series only made me hungry. I love reading their observations on Hawaiian food at the time (describing the melting pot through a mainlander's eyes), but was engaged in the section on Indonesia. The combination of coconut, ginger, shrimp paste and peanuts in gado-gado salad has me craving something like it. The peanuts, and the color of this dish made me think of miang kham, my favorite Thai snack. The version served at the Whiskey Soda Lounge is my favorite, because of its tartness and fire from chopped chilis. You can see what that looks like here. Stop drooling. Right?

Miang kham is composed of a combination of chopped dried shrimp, ginger, shallots, Thai chilis, peanuts, coconut and limes (with the peel on - that's the key, I think), wrapped into a betel leaf (sometimes with a sweet sauce). The recipe for the Whiskey Soda version can be found here. Those are served atop the leaf, and when you eat it, you pick up the thing, wrap it in a bundle and pop the whole thing in your mouth. When I went to Thailand, I was intent on trying other versions. Sometimes they're served wrapped for you (like a little purse), and sold on skewers. Here's a few photos of that (obviously I'm not the first to be obsessed with this dish). At a market in Bangkok, I came across the woman below, who sold a deconstructed version. the ingredients were placed separately in a bag to take on the go. It was a lot sweeter than I prefer, but still tasty and definitely one of the coolest bagged snack foods I've ever seen.

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