- Prepare an attractive platter with
individual piles of the coconut, peanuts, dried shrimp, ginger, lime,
shallot, chile and coriander leaves. Arrange the cha plu or other
leaves on a serving plate.
- To make the sauce, in a mini food
processor or a blender, combine the toasted coconut, dried shrimp
powder, ground peanuts, and galangal. Process as finely as possible.
Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan and add the dried shrimp paste,
palm or brown sugar, tamarind water, fish sauce, soy sauce, salt and
water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium, and
boil gently, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is syrupy and a
dark caramel color, about 3 minutes. Pour into a dipping saucer and let
- Each diner takes a leaf and puts a bit
of each ingredient onto it. The total of all the ingredients should
amount to no more than a small mouthfull. Then he or she spoons a dab of
the sauce on top, folds up the leaf, and pops it into the mouth.
Note - My first introduction to
this "salad" was a learning experience, for eating it properly is no
easy feat. When it was served, it looked like a relish tray, but my host
soon showed me that its enjoyment was dependent on a skillful combining
of the ingredients. She took a small fresh herb leaf and put one or two
bits of each item onto it, spooned a dab of sauce on the mixture, and
folded it up into a bundle. Although it sounds simple, my first attempts
left a trail of ingredients across the table leading to my plate.
Several torn leaves later, I succeeded in wrapping one and consuming the
whole small bite at once. It was a memorable mouthful, bursting with
textures and flavors.
In Thailand, cha plu leaves,
relatives of betel leaves and sometimes referred to as wild betel
leaves, are traditionally used, but spinach or shiso leaves may be
substituted. It is important to cut each ingredient into the size