Monday, March 28, 2011

You're a plant geek foodie when...

1) You instruct the waitress to ask the chef what type of leaf came with the appetizer.
2) You prevent your hungry date from starting just so you can capture the right photo to post on Facebook or your blog!

So,in my last few visits to Thai restaurants, I've insisted that we order the famous "Miang Kham" as an appetizer.

Miang Kham Plate

There's something about the mixture of textures and ingredients and how they all go together with a most scrumptious sweet and savory sauce that's just to die for! And what brings it all together is a unique leaf that I just went GAGA over as I was intrigued by its shape, texture, and the gently pungent taste.

Miang Kham Filled Miang Kham Cone

So this awesome leaf is known as betel (Piper betle).It's the same family where peppercorns come from (Piperaceae) and is found as a creeping, evergreen plant in South and South East Asia. However, the first time I had these, I was told it was called "lalot". So I Google'd the name and Piper sarmentosum came up in the search which supposedly is a smaller leaf and not as strong in flavor as the betel. Whichever leaf it is, it is mighty tasty and binds all the ingredients so well.

Being that it's native to tropical regions, it most likely will not survive as a perennial here, but perhaps an annual or keeping it as a houseplant might work. I've yet to find a nursery that offers the plant.



  1. lol great post! yes it would survive as an indoor plant but P betel is mainly used as a semi narcotic, chewed with betel nut from a palm tree and lime in south-east Asia and New Guinea. It stains the mouth red and tastes revolting! la lot is the Vietnamese name and it is called cha plu in Thai.

  2. What is the name of the restaurant that offers this dish?

  3. One of my favorite dishes, as well!!!!

  4. You know how you see old ladies (usually with no teeth) in the PI smoking those brown cigarettes and usually chewing on them too? Sounds like this is the equivalent to that.

  5. Gwen, this was at a restaurant in Seattle in the Madison neighborhood and it was called "Naam".