Sunday, December 28, 2008

In love for Som Tam now

In Northern Thailand near the Laos border, a dish named Som Tum is served in most homes on a regular basis. Loosely translated it means; SOM - orange/sour, TAM/TUM – pounded, and is relished all over Thailand. There are many versions…but the dish is basically a raw green Papaya salad that has a spicy, sweet and sour flavor to it.

Traditionally this dish is consists of ingredients like tomatoes, yard long beans, fermented fish paste, fish sauce, dried shrimp, palm sugar, garlic, red thai chillies, lime juice (tamarind juice), crushed peanuts and basil leaves. I’ve eaten the Vegetarian version and absolutely love the cornucopia of flavors that exist in this salad – a cool crisp crunch from the raw papaya enveloped in a sweet and sour and spicy dressing, finished with the saltiness from the roasted peanuts.

Having a fondness for raw papaya, this particular recipe is a favorite that is always on the menu at our home when we are in the mood for something Thai.

Recently an Uncle and Aunt were visiting, and I thought of making something different from the “usual” fare of Indian cuisine…the well traveled uncle (in jest?) questioned if anything Thai could taste good? So of course I had to make a mean Som Tam salad, vege spring rolls, Tom Yum soup, Green curry all served with white rice. Verdict........not bad at all!

Here is my vegetarian version of the Thai classic.

Som Tum Papaya Salad

1 lb raw green papaya, peeled and cut into very fine strips
5-8 yard long beans/green beans, stringed and cut into 2 inch pieces
2-3 peeled garlic cloves
2-4 Thai birds eye red chilies
2-6 leaves of thai red basil, chopped into a chiffonade
3-6 tsp lime juice
1-2 tbsp palm sugar/brown sugar/unrefined sugar
3-4 tbsp dry roasted peanuts, coarsely pounded
salt to taste

Coarsely pound the red chilies and garlic and keep aside. Using a large mortar and pestle lightly bruise the papaya and green beans. If you do not own a big enough mortar/pestle then pound the ingredients slipped into a large ziptop bag. Mix the ingredients and let the dish rest in the refrigerator. Serve cold or at room temperature.
This recipe has been submitted for the event A.W.E.D -Thai an event created and hosted by DK of Culinary Bazaar.