When it's too hot to cook, I turn to Thai food. Its bright salads pitch a perfect defense to the sweltering temperatures outside. My favorite? Mieng Kham. Technically an appetizer, I liken it to a salad, eaten by hand. While it does require some dedicated chopping, you can be relieved that it requires absolutely no flame. Instead, its spicy heat, soothing ginger and tart citrus cool from the inside out.
1/4 cup ginger, peeled and finely-diced
1/4 cup shallots, peeled and finely-diced
3 tablespoons dried shrimp, finely-diced
1/4 cup lime, peel left on and diced
10-15 Thai chiles, chopped
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
1/3 cup shredded coconut, toasted
1/4-1/3 cup mieng kham sauce (recipe below)
20-25 fresh betel leaves (substitute lettuce leaves if you cannot find betel leaves)
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the ginger, shallots, dried shrimp, lime, chilies, peanuts, coconut, and mieng kham sauce together. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the mixture in center of each betel leaf. To eat, fold the leaves around the filling to form a pouch and pop in your mouth!
Mieng Kham Sauce
1⁄4 cup chopped shallot
1⁄4 cup chopped ginger
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon palm sugar
1 Tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
1⁄4 cup water
In a mortar and pestle, pound the shallot and ginger until smooth. Add the palm sugar, fish sauce, tamarind and water, mixing to combine. Any extra sauce can be refrigerated for 1 week, or frozen for 1 month.