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Street-Food Inspired Appetizers – Part 2

In the first part of this post on Thai appetizers inspired by street food, I made crispy fried shrimp with sweet chili sauce and Thai curry puffs. The curry puff recipe came from Supatra Johnson’s book Crying Tiger: Thai Recipes from the Heart. Crying Tiger also provided the inspiration for the next set of appetizers.

Grilled prawns on a lemongrass skewer

Grilled prawns on a lemongrass skewer

Shrimp on Lemongrass Skewers

This appetizer looks impressive but is easy to make. It’s simply curried paste of shrimp wrapped around stalks of lemongrass, then grilled or broiled. The lemongrass perfume flavors the shrimp, and the tender lemongrass centers are edible afterwards. This recipe would also work with chicken or pork, though sweet shrimp meat marries well with the light curry flavor.

In a food processor or blender, pulse together:

Until the mixture is pulverized and forms a paste. Leave aside at room temperature to let the tapioca starch thicken everything up.


½ inch from either end, and take off 2-3 layers from the outside. Cut in half, making skewers of about 5 inches long. The thick end can be split in half lengthwise to make two skewers.

Take 1/3 Cup of the paste and pat it into a ball around the top of a skewer. Roast over the medium-hot coals of a charcoal grill for 5 mins, or under a broiler, very far from the flame. The skewers are cooked when the shrimp paste has turned firm and pale pink, with golden char marks.

Miang Kam

The last recipe I cooked from Crying Tiger is Miang Kam – leaves filled with pungent Thai herbs, dried shrimp, and coconut.  Some people might look askance at biting into a leaf stuffed with whole chunks of lime, skin included, raw ginger and shallots, dried shrimp, and pieces of fresh chilies, but sweet and savory sauce mellows and balances these intense flavors, while each taste develops and then explodes on your tongue. People who are shy of chili can leave it out, and just fill each leaf with their favorite ingredients.

Miang Kam using Betel Leaf

Miang Kam using Betel Leaf (click to enlarge)

Arrange a plate with piles of:

  • 1/3 cup roasted, shredded coconut
  • 2 Tbl finely diced ginger
  • ¼ cup diced Thai chilies (or jalapeno or bell peppers, if Thai chilies are unavailable or just too intimidating)
  • 1/3 cup finely diced lime (or lemon), skin included
  • 1/3 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
  • 1/3 cup diced shallots or onions
  • 2 Tbl dried shrimp

Make the sauce by roasting:

  • 1 tsp minced galangal

in a foil packet, over a burner, for 1-2 minutes.

Combine in a saucepan and heat:

Stir until everything is dissolved, and boil for 5 minutes. Let the sauce cool.

A single leaf of Miang Kam

A single leaf of Miang Kam using Napa Cabbabge (click to enlarge)

Cut napa cabbage or iceberg lettuce into pieces. In Thailand, bitter cha-plu leaves are traditional, but lettuce works too.

Your guests will customize their Miang Kam by wrapping the ingredients in a lettuce leaf, pouring a little sauce over the top, then placing the entire leaf-wrapped package in their mouth. It’s a beautiful presentation, and everyone stays busy assembling their own Miang Kam.

If you like Miang Kam, you might want to try out this selection of other Miang Kam recipes, including some regional specialties like Chaing Mai style Miang Kam.

Temple of Thai has all of the ingredients you’ll need to try out these recipes at home, as well as Crying Tiger, for more inspiration.

Kaitlyn MooreAbout the Author, Kaitlyn Moore:
Kaitlyn is originally from North Carolina but moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand, so that she could eat more noodles and avoid snow. She’s been abroad for over a year, with occasional stops in other parts of South and South East Asia.

Images © 2010 Silberkorn/iStockphoto.com, Okea/iStockphoto.com and Temple of Thai 2011

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