Nam Prik Nun Tai Yai

4 to 5 banana chiles (about 1/4 pound)
1/4 pound shallots, cut in half, quartered if very large
6 to 8 cloves garlic, halved if large
1/2 pound cherry tomatoes
2 to 3 tablespoons coriander leaves, coarsely torn
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Heat a charcoal or gas grill. Place the chiles, shallots, garlic, and tomatoes on a fine-mesh rack on the grill and grill until well blackened in spots on one side, then turn with tongs and repeat on the other side, turning the tomatoes as necessary to expose all sides to the heat.

Alternatively, heat two heavy skillets over high heat (if you have only one skillet, the vegetables will have to be cooked in sequence; with two, you can get everything cooked at the same time). Place the chiles, shallots, and garlic cloves in one skillet and place the tomatoes in the other. Lower the heat to medium-high under both skillets. Press down gently on the chiles to expose them to the heat; then, as one side blackens, use tongs or a wooden spatula to turn them. Similarly, turn the shallots and garlic as they blacken on one side to cook the other side. Use tongs to turn the tomatoes, exposing all sides to the heat.

Remove the vegetables from the grill or skillets when they seem well scorched and softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Place on a cutting board to cool slightly. Slice off and discard the stem end of the chiles, slice the chiles lengthwise in half, and discard the seeds (unless you want a very hot salsa). Chop well, then transfer to a medium bowl. Finely chop the remaining vegetables and transfer, together with the juices from the tomatoes, to the bowl. Add the coriander, salt, and lime juice and stir to blend. The sauce will be chunky and a little bit soupy in texture. (The ingredients can be chopped together in a food processor, but the sauce is more traditional and more interesting with a hand-chopped texture.)
If you have time, let the sauce stand for 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to blend and mellow. Store in a covered nonreactive container in the refrigerator. The salsa will keep for 4 to 5 days. Bring back to room temperature before serving.

MAKES about 1½ cups sauce

NOTE: The Shan have a whole repertoire of grilled chile salsas, building on the ingredients in this one. For example, you could grill mushrooms or eggplant, then chop and add to this, adjusting the seasonings as necessary.

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