My first exposure to Thai food was at this place called Tamarind in La Mesa, a suburb of San Diego where I grew up. We always ordered the miang kham, a delicious Thai appetizer of leaves filled with shrimp, lime (skin on), shallots, toasted coconut, toasted peanuts and a sticky sweet and tangy sauce. Amazing. Also, my sister in law absolutely loves the appetizer, so I thought it was time to give a vegetarian version a try!
I used this recipe on Real Thai Recipes as a guide. I replaced the fish sauce with fermented soy beans, skipped the shrimp, and added tamarind to the sauce because I like the tang it gives. At the Tamarind restaurant they used lettuce, but betel leaves are traditionally used. I was at a Korean market recently and picked up some nice big shiso leaves so I used those and they worked great! Next time I’m at a Thai market I’ll see if they have betel leaves.
Sweet Tamarind Sauce
1 piece galangal chopped as much as you can
1/4 cup shallots or chopped red onions
1 tablespoon fermented soy bean
1 tablespoon tamarind
1/2 cup palm sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons desiccated shredded coconut
1/3 cup peanuts toasted
1/3 cup shallots of red onions finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons chopped ginger
Thai red chilis thinly sliced
8 betel leaves (substitute shiso leaves or lettuce leaves)
Grind all the sauce ingredients in a little food processor with just a little of the water.
Toast the coconut until browned but not burnt.
Scrape the sauce into a little sauce pan adding the rest of the water and 2 tablespoons of the toasted coconut and cook until reduced to a thick sticky sauce.
On a platter or in small bowls put all the ingredients. Make each parcel by taking a leaf, adding coconut, peanuts, onions, ginger, red chili and topping with sauce. Delish!
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