I am not a huge salad lover and the entries in my blog can vouch for it as I don’t have many salad recipes. That does not mean I don’t love salads. I do love salads which are a good mix of ingredients and which appeal to my palate and once it does, it enters my blog. One of my friends recently moved and had a party at her house and she prepared this refreshingly lovely salad for lunch. I loved the refreshing tanginess of the mango, mixed with the neutral crunch of the papaya, the sweet blend of the carrot & onion. Adding to the refreshing feeling was the lemon, the crunch of the de-skinned salted peanuts. The sweetness imparted by the jaggery. The best part of the salad was all blended beautifully into one and yet had a unique taste and flavor. This dressing could be aptly described as “tangy” - a combination of sweet, sour, spicy and salty, but more sweet than sour which helps to balance out the sharpness of the papaya.
This led me to research about this Thai salad, and I found out that this salad is called “Som tam”.
Now, Som (means 'sour') Tam (means to 'pound' with a pestle and mortar).
This refreshing Thai salad, originates from the northeastern part of Thailand, but is popular all over Thailand and even in neighboring Laos and Myanmar.They have their version and additions to the recipe too.
A google search also led me to a website that lists this dish as Number 46 in the “World's 50 most delicious foods” (Below is the URL for you to see the Worlds 50 most delicious foods.)
It’s no wonder that I liked this recipe so much.
As the Thais love meat, the som Tam contains dried shrimps and crab meat and fish sauce as one of the ingredients. But since Iam a vegetarian, I will be avoiding all this in my recipe.
They also pound with a mortar and pestle the garlic and chilli into a paste and pound the long beans to a bruise. In fact they pound even the grated papaya and carrot a bit. I didn’t add long beans nor did I add garlic or green chillies in my recipe as I have to cook for young kids who may not appreciate all the spice.
Below is the Vegetarian or might I say vegan version of the “Unpounded” Som Tam with ingredients blended to make anyone crave for a helping of it. Try this refreshing salad. A special thanks to my friend who introduced me to this recipe.
Raw papaya –½
Raw Mango – ¼
Carrot - 1
Onion – 1
Tomatoes – 1 red and ripened (I didn’t use in this recipe)
Long beans (lightly steamed/blanched and chopped) - 7-8 nos (I didn’t use in this recipe)
Green chilly - 1-2 to taste (optional)
Salted de-skinned Peanuts – 2 tablespoons
Red Chilly flakes – ½ teaspoon
Lemon Juice – 1 lemon
Jaggery – Lemon Ball size
Salt as per taste
Fresh green coriander leaves – 1 tbsp
Grate and soak the lemon sized jaggery in water. Make a solution of the jaggery.
Choose a nice green raw papaya, peel the skin and grate it. Don’t use the fine grater, use the medium sized grater, so that you can feel the texture of every ingredient. Keep aside.
I chose a nice green Thai Mango, you can choose any variety of raw mango.
Use only quarter of the mango. Peel the skin and grate using the same grater. Keep aside.
Now peel and grate the carrot and keep aside.
Onion has to be cut in thin strips. Keep aside.
Squeeze the juice of a lemon without the seeds and keep aside.
Now, in a big salad bowl, toss in all the ingredients.
Traditionally Thai som tam salad, is served along with a side dish. This includes pieces of green beans and a fairly thick but small size of cabbage.
Traditionally som tam is made very spicy and hot - the side dish also contains crushed ice along with the beans and cabbage.
I’d suggest that you toss all the ingredients together just 5 to 10 minutes before you plan to eat it. Leaving the ready som tam for a long time, causes the salad to become quite soggy. Remember that this is just you first try at making veg Thai food, you can always experiment by fine tuning the proportion of ingredients used in the recipe.
You can adjust the sweetness or spice levels according to your tastes.
This proportion serves 3-4.
· Make sure you use unripe green papaya, which is firm
· Jaggery can be replaced with Sugar or Honey
· Ripe tomatoes can be chopped and added
· Long beans can be lightly steamed or pounded and added
· The peanuts can be added as it is or split them into halves and add in, or do it the more authentic way. The roasted peanuts are generally pounded into smaller pieces, not a fine powder but rather coarse.
· Instead of peanuts you can use cashew nuts or both in the recipe
· You can add garlic and chilly pounded into a paste as per the traditional recipe.
· You can add a dash of soya sauce for a n Asian flavor.