Quick and Easy

Zab-Zab Dust

January 29, 2020
1 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
  • Prep time 2 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Makes about 1/4 cup
Author Notes

In Isan, a region in northeast Thailand, “zab” is used to describe a Captain Falcon–strength jolt of flavor to the mouth. Toasted and ground sticky rice (khao khua) is a common ingredient Isan cooks call in for a what’s-the-word-for-this crunch on minty salads or puckery, porky laap. So that I don’t lose any of that volatile roasty-toastiness, I toast and powder only what I plan to use that day. For a finger-sticking dust worth its salt, I add a tiny squeeze of lime, pinch of chile, and just enough sugar to bring you back for more. Massage the lime zest in with your fingers, and hover—if you dare—for a zab-zab punch to the face. Use to dust popcorn, roasted fish collars, or fried chicken wings. —Coral Lee

What You'll Need
  • 3 tablespoons Thai sticky rice
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, tough layers removed, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 2 Makrut lime leaves
  • 1 Thai bird chile
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  1. Toast the sticky rice, lemon grass, lime leaves, and chili in a shallow frying pan set over low heat, stirring frequently, until everything is a deep mahogany and crisp, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Transfer the toasted sticky rice mixture to a blender, spice grinder, or mortar and pestle, and blitz until it’s the texture of cornmeal. Pour into a small bowl or glass jar, fish out any stringy lemongrass bits, and stir in the remaining ingredients.

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