Serves four as a starter.
YOU WILL NEED
For the sauce
4 dsps fish sauce
3 dsps or 60g palm sugar
½ dsp Thai shrimp paste
2 dsps tamarind juice
1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
1 dsp galangal, chopped
For the filling
75g toasted coconut/1 brown-shelled coconut
75g unsalted, roasted peanuts, crushed
2 dsps shallots, finely diced
2 dsps ginger, finely diced
1 lime, peeled and finely diced
3 bird's-eye chillies, finely chopped
125g smoked trout fillet, skin off and diced into 1cm pieces
20 betel leaves
To make the sauce, mix all the sauce ingredients in a saucepan. Cook for a few minutes gently on a low heat, stirring continuously until the palm sugar has dissolved and the sauce has thickened slightly.
Once the sauce is ready, take it off the heat and pour it through a sieve to remove the lemongrass and galangal.
Allow to cool.
To make toasted coconut, take a brown-shelled coconut, crack it and, using a small, sharp knife, cut off the flesh and slice into fine pieces. Place them on a baking sheet and put in the oven at 150°C/Gas Mark 2 until golden. You can use desiccated coconut, but fresh coconut is much tastier.
To prepare the filling, using a spoon, lightly mix together the prepared coconut, peanuts, shallots, ginger, lime, bird's eye chillies and smoked trout and a little of the sauce to bind the ingredients together.
To serve, lay out the betel leaves and, using a spoon, divide the mixture between the leaves and top with a little more of the sauce. They can be served flat on a dish, or they can be rolled so that the betel leaves holds the mixture – easier to eat!
All the flavours should be of equal strength. The strong and pungent ingredients should be diced smaller so as not to dominate. This will keep in a sealed jar in the fridge for a week.
You can bring the ingredients to the table separately so that your guests can create their own tasty mouthfuls.
It is important that a small amount of each ingredient is used on each leaf to get the balance that makes this taste so sensational.
The dare-devils among you may be tempted to add extra chilli, but try to resist. Shiso leaves can be used as a substitute for the betel leaves, but if neither are available then try lettuce leaves, although lettuce won't have the flavour of the other leaves.