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Posts Tagged ‘meang kam’

Why pay so much when you can make your own meang kam?

In appetiser, eastern, Thai on January 11, 2015 at 7:26 pm

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Have you ever gone to a Thai restaurant and ate that leaf-wrapped thing? That appetiser is called meang kam and that leaf is daun kadok, a common wild plant that can be planted in your garden. You can find it at some wet markets – look for stalls that sell kampung vegetables – but nothing beats a ready supply from your garden.

The daun that grows in a pot in my condo garden.

The daun kadok that grows in a pot in my condo garden.

Even though I am familiar with meang kam which my mother used to sometimes make at home, my first encounter with the plant was during a nature walk in Langkawi. I asked the guide if I could uproot it and take it home to plant. Later on, I found the plant growing out from under the hoardings of a construction site near my home and uprooted some too. I have also spotted the leaves growing under some shrubs near the sheltered bus stop across the road from Bangsar Shopping Centre.

Keep your eyes peeled for this plant. When I served this at a gathering at my home recently, a few friends noted that they have seen this plant in their garden but did not know the leaves could be eaten. My mother also uses the daun kadok to line the bowl when steaming otak-otak.

I’ve also discovered that the taste of daun kadok goes well with burger patties and fried onions marinated in fish sauce or Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce – I use the daun kadok in place of lettuce and tomato when I make a burger at home. Other ways to use it is to cut into thin shreds and fry with canned sardines or add to fried rice.

For a few years there were just a few leaves but since last year my plant has really flourished, probably helped by the almost daily rainfall. It grows well in damp and shady areas. When I go on my long holidays, I would often return home to shriveled leaves. My daun kadok is planted in pots placed in the front yard of my condo. It would often creep away to seek water from the pond next to my yard. When it looks like it is about to go on an adventure of its own, I would bring it back and twirl it round and round in the pots.

Making meang kam is a matter of assembly. But first, you need to make the sauce. I got the recipe from my mother and it’s agak-agak, so I can’t give you exact measurements. Melt some dark brown sugar (not the light-coloured granulated brown sugar) with some tamarind water over a slow fire. Adjust between adding water or brown sugar until the sauce has the thick consistency of honey.

The five ingredients that go into the wrap are as follows:
Grated coconut – panfry
Lime – cut into little pieces
Ginger – cut into little pieces
Peanuts – panfry, remove skin
Dried prawns – give them a short soak in hot water to clean, then panfry

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To assemble the meang kam, first put a dollop of sauce onto the leaf. Then put a little of the other ingredients. Wrap and eat. The good thing about having your own plant is you can go out and pluck them as needed, which I did numerous times when I made meang kam for my friends. Once you get the hang of making this simple appetiser, you’ll never want to pay a huge sum for just a few leaves that leaves you wanting more.

Hunting list: daun kadok

Shopping list: dark brown sugar, dried tamarind, dried prawns, peanuts, lime, ginger

Can I do it?: It’s easier than assembling IKEA furniture

Tip: As indicated, sauce first, then ingredients – this helps the ingredients ‘stick’ together.

Credit: Mummy

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