Miang can be pretty much anything you want them to be. That's my conclusion anyway, after our latest encounter with street miang.
In from of the wonderful morning market in Lampang, a sleepy town about an hour south of Chiang Mai, we found two versions of classic Thai miang kham (peanuts, lime, ginger, sweet chili sauce, et all wrapped in wild pepper leaves) -- one made with blanched leaves, the other with fresh.
Three hours east of Lampang in Nan, capital of the Lao-bordering Thai province of the same name, we ate miang made with pickled cabbage leaves filled with fried pork skin, chilies, peanuts, and cilantro. The vendor called them miang Lao.
And here in Luang Prabang we've discovered yet more variations on the miang theme.
On a corner two blocks from the Post Office (heading away from the peninsula) a vendor sets up her miang takeaway stall every afternoon around 1:30 or 2. After covering her low table with a plastic tarp she lays out a plastic basket filled with soft pillows of rice vermicelli and a mound of slivered banana blossom mixed with sliced purple globe eggplant and mint.
Next to that she places a plastic bowl of jaow makhyaa -- a dip made of grilled eggplant pounded with chilies and herbs -- and then a smaller plastic bowl of a sweetened paste made from glutinous rice and brown cane sugar. The surfaces of both the eggplant and the rice paste are covered with crispy caramlized shallots.
After placing two white enameled platters at the front of the table she pulls up a tiny chair, sits down, and gets to work.
Blanched cabbage and wild pepper leaves receive a peanut or two and a few rings of sliced lemongrass, each pulled from a plastic bag sitting on her lap. She dabs sweetened rice paste on top, then tucks the leaf around the filling to form a neat triangle and places the finished miang on the platter to her right.
The first time we stopped by she was making fresh miang with curly green leaf lettuce and cashew leaves, wrapping the greens around a few strands of noodle and spoonful of eggplant dip.
The next day she used pakkat (vegetables of the mustard family -- in this case flowering yellow mustard) leaves instead of cashew leaves. In other words, whatever is good and fresh at the market is what ends up in her miang.
We'd been hoofing about in search of lunch for 30 minutes or so by the time we found her stall. Ravenous, we ate her miang as fast as she could make them, popping them in our mouths one after another, adding a little heat as we went with nibbles from crispy roasted dried chilies pulled from a plastic bag on her table (help yourself).
Each miang cost 500 kip. Twelve thousand well held us to dinner.
Miang vendor, main road two blocks up from the Post Office. From 1-1:30pm (but perhaps not everyday). If you arrive after 2:30 you'll also find a kanom krok vendor (highly recommended). Around 3pm a grilled banana and sweet potato vendor sets up as well.