Chef's Recipes

Betel leaves with accoutrements (mieng kham)

A simple starter that's all about texture and flavour.

  • 20 mins preparation
  • 45 mins cooking plus cooling
  • Serves 8 - 10
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"Thai food is so much about textures and the immediate flavour on the palate," says Palisa Anderson of Chat Thai. "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.


Dried shrimp is available from Asian grocers. Young ginger is soft and juicy; look for ginger with thin, pale skin.Drink suggestion: Nutty palo cortado sherry. Drink suggestion by Max Allen.