Punchy Thai flavours combine with vibrant colours to create these morsels of deliciousness.
• Find fried shallots, mung bean vermicelli noodles, palm sugar and tamarind puree in the Asian aisle of the supermarket.
• Buy betel leaves and dried shrimp at Asian supermarkets. n Buy crab meat from your local fishmonger.
* = see Cooks' tips.
1⁄4 cup fried shallots* 200g mung bean vermicelli noodles*
200ml coconut cream
2 Tbsp fish sauce, plus extra, to serve
2 eschalots, finely sliced
1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, very finely sliced
2 limes, peeled, segmented, finely chopped
1 cup coriander leaves, plus extra, to serve
2 long red chillies, cut into matchsticks
50g peanuts, toasted, crushed
4 kaffir lime leaves, cut into matchsticks
24 betel leaves*
500g cooked mud crab or blue swimmer crab meat*
2 coriander roots, washed, finely chopped
1 clove garlic
1⁄2 Tbsp dried shrimp*
1⁄4 cup soft Thai palm sugar*
1⁄4 cup fish sauce
80ml hot water
120ml smooth tamarind puree*
2 Tbsp lime juice
1–2 tsp chilli powder
To make dressing, use a mortar and pestle to pound coriander root, garlic and dried shrimp to form a fine powder. Stir in palm sugar and fish sauce, then transfer to a small saucepan. Add hot water and tamarind puree. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside to cool for 15 minutes or until room temperature. Stir in lime juice and chilli powder to taste.
Use a mortar and pestle to pound fried shallots to form a fine powder. Set aside. Put noodles in a large heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and allow to soak for 4 minutes. Drain well. Using scissors, snip noodles over a large bowl to make 15–20cm strands. Add coconut cream, fish sauce and 1⁄2 of the fried shallot powder, mixing gently to combine.
Put eschalots, lemongrass, limes, coriander leaves, chillies, peanuts and 1⁄2 of the kaffir lime leaves in a large bowl, mixing well to combine. Add 1.5 Tbsp of the cooled tamarind dressing, mixing to bind.
Divide noodles among each betel leaf, then carefully arrange on a large serving platter. Pile crab meat on top of noodles, then eschalot mixture and 1 tsp of the dressing over each one. Sprinkle over remaining fried shallot powder and remaining kaffir lime leaves. Garnish with extra coriander leaves and serve with remaining dressing and extra fish sauce on the side.