Sunday, 10 February 2013

Som Tam, The Thai Salad

Sundays with Chef Peter….

Hello there this fine Sunday and Happy Chinese New Year. Do hope you are having a lovely holiday celebrating with your friends and family. This year is my year, the year of the snake.

I was thinking this week that I should do something on Valentine's as it is the big day this coming Thursday but then I thought, "nah, not in the mood just yet!'
I hope though you are looking for a little something for your loved ones for this day of love darlings, just a simple something to tell them how much you love them…

I wanted to tell you more this week about that wonderful Thai dish Som Tam.
The dish originates from Laos and is made from shredded unripe papaya. Did you know that the dish was listed 46 on World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods compiled by CNN Go in 2011? Not bad for a little Thai salad!

Thais love to eat this dish as they can enjoy it any time, for a snack or main meal and is perfect for sharing with friends and catching up on the latest. It is also very popular among Thai ladies from all classes for the same reason but also because it is great for your waistline! It can be eaten any time of the day and is normally eaten with sticky rice and grilled chicken.

All around Thailand you will find Som Tam restaurants and street vendors making the dish. People normally have their own way of having the Som Tam, either less or more spicy or more sweet or sour but a good Som Tam maker will know how to get the right balance of sweet and sour. Of course how many chilis you can take is up to you, for me no chili (I can do one if put in by mistake but it’s not pleasant for me!). As I mentioned, I still get a little kick from the pestle and mortar and all the chili from the many salads pounded in it before. The addition of brined crabs to Som Tam is also popular in Thailand. These are not marine crabs, but local salted black crabs (rice field crab) found in the flooded rice fields and canals. Isarn people eat the entire crab, including the shell. From what I see from my friends though, eating it this way seems a sure way of getting a bad stomach, yet the daahlings still love it!

We've also tried pairing Som Tam with other meats and fish and it goes really well with pan-fried salmon, lamb cutlets and beef - all delicious and worth a try.

If you would like to make your own Som Tam, all you need is a pestle and mortar and the following ingredients:

Green Papaya 200 grams
Long Bean 20 grams
Dried Shrimps 15 grams
Tomato 25 grams
Garlic 15 grams
Hot Chili 1-2 pieces
Fish Sauce 1 gram
Palm Sugar 16 grams
Lime Juice 15 grams
Roasted Peanuts 10 grams

These quantities are just guidelines and can be adjusted to suit your taste.

We visited another of our favourite Som Tam shops to see the making just across the road from where we live in Boat Lagoon, Laab Lung Auon Yasathorn, 30/10 Moo 2, Tambon Koh Kaew, Amphur Phuket.
Place your chili and garlic and give it a pounding

Add your fish sauce, palm sugar and lime juice

Add peanuts and dried shrimps

Add tomato and lime

Add papaya and long beans and give it all a good pounding to mix all the flavours

At last, the finished salad

This is my regular for Som Tam where Khun Sao or her mother do the cooking. It is perfectly consistent every time.

"Laab Lung Auon Yasathorn Restaurant"

These street restaurants may not look like 5 star joints but actually produce really good, clean Thai food and their BBQ items are excellent. I always like to get there just before midday when all the meat and fish is fresh off the BBQ and just before the lunch crowd arrives!

Happy pounding!


  1. It's great to cook for your loved ones!

  2. Yummmm!!! I think I would love this! Slurpssss!!!!

  3. Certainly love to try this at home. Thks for sharing!