This isn't technically a citrus recipe, but it does have Meyer lemons in it. :)
Back in January, shortly after I made Bo Nuong La Lot (Vietnamese Grilled Beef with Wild Betel Leaves), I was trying to think of another way to use these oh so fragrant leaves.
La lot (wild betel leaf (piper sarmentosum)) is a bushy carminative plant, helping to cure dysentery or to ease toothaches. It should not be confused with la trau (betel leaves (piper betle)), a climbing vine, which is often chewed with the areca or betel nut and lime.
While Vietnamese clearly distinguish between the two leaves, wild for cooking and non-wild for chewing raw with betel nuts, I'm a little confused by which one is used for mieng kham (Thai leaf-wrapped snack). In Cathy of Gastronomy's photos of her snack in Bangkok, Thailand, I could see clearly that the leaf was the shiny wild betel leaf. But in Cee of Real Thai Recipes, the leaf was duller. She said the plant was almost like a vine, indicating it was betel leaf (the non-wild kind). So I'm still confused! Perhaps either variety may be used for this snack?
This is one of those dishes where the individual components don't seem like much, but combined, it packs a whole lot of flavor. I was too lazy to power up my laptop and was going on memory of the ingredients in the sauce so I mistakenly added tamarind. I liked it so much though that I'm sticking with it. Also, I substituted walnuts for peanuts since I'm not a big fan of the latter. I also used Meyer lemons instead of limes for that slightly sweet sour taste. Since I hardly ever have galangal on hand, I omitted that and used ginger. I replaced the palm sugar with brown sugar. And finally, I toned down the spiciness by replacing the raw chili with dried chili peppers and added that to the sauce instead. Hmm. I'm sure some purist will be appalled with all my adjustments but I thought the end result was still very tasty.
My only complaint? The wild betel leaf was pretty tasteless when eaten raw. I was really disappointed because when I make bo nuong la lot the extraordinary fragrance is just so intoxicating. So if you can't locate any wild betel leaves where you are, I would suggest substituting with butter lettuce or even baby spinach since it's healthier.
Mieng Kham (Thai Leaf-Wrapped Snack)
Adapted from Cee of Real Thai Recipes
For about 2 dozen wraps, you'll need:
24 wild betel leaves, or butter lettuce or baby spinach
1/4 cup dried shrimp
1/4 cup walnuts or peanuts, roasted and chopped
1/4 cup shallots, chopped
1/2 Meyer lemon, quartered and thinly sliced
1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted
2-inch knob ginger, finely julienned
For the sauce, you'll need:
1 shallot, finely minced
1 cup water
2 tblsp brown sugar
2 tsp fish sauce
1/4 cup shredded coconut, toasted
1 tblsp tamarind pulp
1 tsp dried chili pepper
Toast 3/4 cup shredded coconut on medium heat until golden. Measure out 1/2 cup and put that on the serving platter. Save the remaining 1/4 cup toasted coconut for the sauce.
Toast 1/4 cup walnuts or peanuts in the pan, or a toaster oven. Roughly chop the nuts and add them to the serving platter as well.
Finely julienne a 2-inch knob of ginger. Add to serving platter.
Finely chop 1/4 cup shallots. Add to serving platter.
Quarter and thinly slice half a Meyer lemon. Add to serving platter.
Add the dried shrimp to serving platter and set aside.
Now it's time to make the sauce. In a small saucepan on medium-low heat, add 1 finely minced shallot, 1 cup water, 2 tblsp brown sugar, 2 tsp fish sauce, 1/4 cup shredded toasted coconut,
1 tblsp tamarind pulp, and 1 tsp dried chili pepper. Stir until ingredients are mixed and sauce has thickened to your liking. Taste and adjust if necessary. Spoon sauce into a serving bowl.
Wash betel leaves.
Now you're ready to start assembling. If you're making this for a party, let each guest assemble their own wraps.
Fold wild betel leaf into a small cone and add any or all of the various ingredients, then spoon a bit of the sauce on top.
Fold the top over into a small package and pop the whole thing in your mouth.
Mieng kham hits all the flavor notes from the fresh ginger to salty shrimp to sweet coconut to sour lemons to sour-spicy sauce.
I'm submitting this recipe to Weekend Herb Blogging, a world-wide food blogging event created by Kalyn's Kitchen celebrating herbs, vegetables, or flowers.
If you'd like to participate, see who's hosting next week. WHB is hosted this week by Kalyn.
1 year ago today, Fu Zhou fried rice, Portuguese baked pork chop, Spanish coffee, and other Hong Kong cafe food at Sika's - Alhambra (Closed).