Betel leaves with accoutrements
SERVES 8-10 // PREP TIME 20 MINS // COOK 45 MINS (PLUS COOLING)
“Thai food is so much about textures and the immediate flavour on the palate,” says Palisa Anderson. “And this is one of those dishes that defines Thai cookery: simple and showcasing good ingredients.”
100 gm shredded coconut 30 betel leaves, washed and patted dry with paper towels 100 gm dried shrimp (see note) 100 gm small roasted peanuts 100 gm young ginger, finely diced (see note) 3-4 red shallots, finely diced 10 red birdseye chillies, thinly sliced
Finger limes, halved, or diced lime flesh, to serve MIENG KHAM SAUCE
2 tbsp dried finely grated
coconut (or desiccated) 10 gm (2cm piece) galangal,
coarsely chopped 1½ lemongrass stalks, white part only
350 gm soft palm sugar
2 tsp shrimp paste
60 gm dried shrimp, finely ground in a food processor
1 Dry-roast shredded coconut in a wok or frying pan over low-medium heat, tossing, until golden (10 minutes).
2 For mieng kham sauce, dry-roast coconut in a wok or large frying pan over medium heat until golden
(8-10 minutes). Set aside. Add galangal and lemongrass to wok and dry-roast until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Finely pound galangal mixture with a mortar and pestle, then place in a large saucepan with palm sugar, shrimp paste and 600ml water. Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve sugar, reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until sticky and reduced by a quarter (10-15 minutes). Stir in ground shrimp and roasted coconut and cool to room temperature.
3 Serve betel leaves with dried shrimp, peanuts, ginger, shallot, chilli, roasted coconut and lime with sauce on the side.
Note Dried shrimp is available from Asian grocers. Young ginger is soft and juicy; look for ginger with thin, pale skin. Wine suggestion Nutty palo cortado sherry.