Som Tam Isan (papaya salad)
This is a typical isan (north east) dish. It can be made with or without
the plara (pickled mud fish). Potential cook are warned: this ingredient
smells foul! but it does taste nice.
som tam is a basic "salad" style dish, eaten as a snack.
The pickled mud fish is sold in bottled form in asian markets: take some
of the fish, add a little fish sauce, and place it in a muslin bag and
squeeze as much fluid as possible from the fish. (you can use the fish
themselves, but they are raw, albeit pickled, and their is some risk
from parasites. If you use the fish paste itself I suggest you first
microowave it to ensure it is safe to eat! If you are squeemish then
sterilize the liquor also. If really squeemish, the ingredient is
one papaya (paw-paw) julienned.
an equal quantity of red prik ki nu (birdseye or dynamite chilis). These
are normally de-stalked, cut in four length-wise then in half
8-10 cloves of garlic, chopped coarsely,
2 tomatoes sliced thinly
half a cup of long beans cut into 1" pieces (Thai long beans if
pinch of salt
two teaspoons of fish sauce
quart cup of tamarind juice
juice from two tablespoons of pickled mud-fish.method.
sprinkle the julienned papaya with salt and let stand for half an hour
or so, then squeeze and discard any fluid. add the chili, and pound in a
mortar and pestle, add the remaining ingredients except the tomato, and
pound until mixed and tender. Add the tomato, and serve with a bowl of
This is food for chili masochists in extremis: you can increase the
proportion of chilis until this is a bowl of red fire, and it will still
be authentic. On the other hand you can redice the cilis to just a hint
is left and it will also still be authentic. The above 50:50 mix is
about typical of the region.
If you wish you can decorate the salad with chopped roast peanuts,
sliced green onions, and mint leaves. You could also include [raw] bean
sprouts and sliced cucumber as side dishes.. Thais generally eat lettuce
or some cabbage related vegetable as a side dish also. (The normal way
to eat it is to rip a piece of lettuce leaf, and take a mouthful of som
tam in the leaf and eat it without knife, fork or spoon...) If you want
to be a bit more western use a standard salad, or even an exotic such as
a Wldorf Salad as a side dish...
Special thanks to - Muoi Khuntilanont.