I had a request for a recipe for miang, which is basically a plate of small tasty bits and pieces such as ginger, garlic, roasted peanuts, shallots, lemon grass, dried shrimp, Lao sausage, star fruit, lime, toasted coconut, chillies, round eggplant, thin rice noodles, etc and some salad leaves to wrap up your personal selection before dipping it in a spicy sauce. I make a hot salty sour sweet sauce by simmering tamarind juice, padek or fish sauce depending on mood, chillies, salt and palm sugar, and diluted with water if its too strong and thick. Usually I just fling the dish together with whatever I have handy, but I decided to check out a few recipe books and websites for other food writers’ take on this highly variable snack.
My earliest recipe on file was a printout from the web back in 2001, from Thaifolk.com. The recipe was translated by Aketawan Manowongsa from Mom Luang Nuang Nilaruttana; 1994; 14,28.
Miang Lao (Pork version from Thaifolks.com)
Pork with slight amount of fat. Big dried shrimps, pounded or chopped and fried. Roasted peanuts. Fried shallots, Fried garlic, Ginger, Finely chopped tamarind, Fish sauce, Palm sugar, Oil, Tea leaves or Pickled lettuce, Hot chilies, Fried crispy rice, and Crisped pork fat. (I think he missed out either salt or fish sauce/padek as there is no salty ingredient in this list DLC)
Dice or coarsely chop the pork, then fry it in the pan and add some sugar, palm sugar. When the pork is done, put it in a bowl and mix it with finely chopped tamarind until it tastes sour. After the pork tastes 3 flavours; sour, salty and sweet. (Here’s where I think the salt or fish sauce would come in). Then mix it with pounded roasted peanut, finely pounded-crisped pork fat, finely pounded or fried dried shrimps, ginger, fried shallot, and fried garlic. When it has 3 flavours; sour, salty, and sweet, it is then ready for serve. Wrap it with Chiang Mai tea leaves or pickled lettuce but, surely, it doesn’t taste as good as wrapped in tea leaves. Eat it with fried crisped pork or, if preferred, chew it with hot chili.
Next I looked up the heavy hitters of the cookbook world (well, in my opinion), Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s superbly put together “Hot Sour Salty Sweet: a culinary journey through Southeast Asia” Artisan, New York, 2000, which, by the way, is a MUST HAVE book for your bookshelf, and you can buy it on Amazon. Yep, they did not disappoint, featuring Hot and Spicy Leaf Wraps (miang kham, pp 264-5), Beef and Lettuce Roll-ups (Miang neua, p 68) and Green-wrapped flavor bundles with pork (miang lao, p 269). Phia Sing (Traditional Recipes of Laos), also available from Amazon has a recipe for Miang Som Khai using fish eggs, pork, shrimp and fish. He describes how to make lacy egg skins, but if that is too much hassle suggests using salad leaves instead
From Eating Asia (Robyn Eckhardt, Freelance Food and Travel Writer and David Hagerman, Photographer, comes this wonderful blog about Thai miang, including a recipe for miang Lao.
Lao Voices features Luang Prabang miang muang Luang: . The post by LV has good photos of how to dry sticky rice for the miang. Below is an abbreviated version of the post, without the photos.
Miang Muang Luang (Sticky rice version from Lao Voices)
Preparing the sticky rice
For this recipe LV assumes that you know to cook sticky rice. It needs to be dried completely. This should take a few days when you are drying the rice inside. Start by breaking down the cooked sticky rice into tiny pieces on a bamboo tray or any tray and let the rice dry out. You’ll know when the rice has turned clear, it is ready to be deep fried. When you are ready to fry the dried rice, sort out the big pieces and using the mortar and pestle, gently break down the rice into smaller pieces. By doing so the rice would be easier to fry and taste better in the end.
Making the Miang Mixture
- Deep fry the dried rice using vegetable, corn, or sunflower oil (your choice) until golden brown and let cool completely. Then using a blender, grind the rice popcorn into fine pieces.
- You’ll need the following ingredients: 2 cloves of garlic, two shallots, sugar, fish sauce, salt, monosodium glutamate/MSG (optional). Chop or grind the garlic and shallots. Add a teaspoon or two of oil (vegetable, corn, or sunflower) in a wok and fry the garlic and shallots until golden brown. Remove them from the oil. Add a tea spoon of sugar to the oil. When the sugar is golden brown, add water to the wok. The amount of water depends on the amount of ground rice that you have. This should be a 3 to 1 ratio, meaning 3 cups of water for one cup of ground rice. When you have the desired amount of water, then add fish sauce, salt, MSG, and more sugar until you get the taste you want.
- Add the ground rice gradually and stir the mixture constantly until you get a thick mixture that looks close to oatmeal. Remove the miang mixture from the pan and set aside for serving.
You’ll need the following ingredients: lemon grass, green egg plants (the small round ones), galangal, ginger, roasted peanuts, roasted dried chili peppers, lettuce, and phak i leut (wild pepper leaves, often called betel leaves). Slice lemon grass, green egg plants, galangal, and ginger into small serving pieces and place them next to roasted peanuts and roasted dried chili peppers.
Serve the wild pepper leaves alongside so that people can make their own miang. (You could also use lettuce leaves, or pickled cabbage leaves, and American Lao seem to be fond of spinach as a wrapper DLC).
Other recipes for Miang can be found in Daovone Xayavong’s Taste of Laos (Fresh spinach wraps, Miang Kam, p22). And don’t forget “Lao Cooking and the Essence of Life” by Xaixana Champanakone (formerly Vincent Fischer-Zernin), his miang are on p 93. Xaixana’s spirited book is an inspiration for creative cooks worldwide.
I can’t resist this Thai miang kam because of the yummy sauce.
Well, all this has made me hungry. Guess what snack I’m now going to have!