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.


VV said...

Hey, thanks for agreeing on my post on stuff-free holidays. Thought I would only get brick-bats :-)
Also thank you for the great vegetarian thai salad recipe.

Sunshinemom said...

What a beautiful picture! Thanks for the recipe - this has got to be delish!

Its late but - Have a great year and Happy New Year!

You could send this tasty salad to DK at Culinary Bazaar for AWED Thai at

A Virtual Vegetarian said...

@VnV, I know you like Thai food I think yourr husband will like this dish...extra peanuts only makes this dish taste better :))

@Sunshinemom, thank you very much for the link, I just submitted my recipe for the AWED-Thai.

Unknown said...

wow wow! This is one of the reasons for hosting such events - I luv to get to know the authentic names of dishes and this is so new to me. Thanks for sending this my way for AWED! Luks delish.


zlamushka said...

I love somt tam salad, too bad we dont get papaya s here in denmark. Not the green ones anyway. I have tried this many times with carrots, pretty good :-)

Ms Agility said...

This is one of my favourite salads - you can almost feel yourself getting healthier as you eat it. The absolute best way I've ever had it was with fish that had been pounded and fried, almost like a crispy fishy garnish for the salad. Not so very vego, but really very good :)