Leela Punyaratabandhu's leaf-wrapped salad bites don't look like much. But these diminutive snacks in her new cookbook, Simple Thai Food, are far more intriguing than their name implies. Each wrap is filled with an array of Thai flavors—hot, sour, salty, and sweet all take a turn. Ginger and chilies bring the heat, lime adds tartness, dried shrimp gives each bite a burst of salinity, and coconut and peanuts contribute sweet nuttiness. If it looks like a pile of garnishes, wait until you drizzle the assemblage with the ultra-sweet and funky sauce. Instead of fighting with the toppings, it brings everything together into a bright, refreshing bite.
Why I picked this recipe: I was curious about this recipe because it didn't sound like it could possibly taste good. (I was wrong.)
What worked: The is an excellent integrator—each seemingly disparate ingredient in the wrap tasted cohesive when drizzled with the sweet and salty sauce.
What didn't: I would definitely recommend rinsing the ginger before serving.
Suggested tweaks: There's not really a good substitute for galangal, so if you can't find it, you can just leave it out of the sauce. You can find dried shrimp and shrimp paste in Asian grocery stores; look for larger, meatier shrimp. If you can't find them, you can use a bit more fish sauce in the sauce. You can exclude the dried shrimp from the wraps if necessary. I couldn't find cha-phlu leaves, so I used Chinese broccoli leaves. They worked well.