It’s been a really hot summer. The weather doesn’t make me feel like eating or doing much. I’m not a big fan of salad, but lately I’ve been craving for something light, spicy, sweet and sour because of the heat. And here it is. Som Tam is a Thai salad dish that I’ve learned to love when I was working in a Thai restaurant downtown Helsinki. It was one of my favourite Thai dish to order from the kitchen especially during a long, hot working day, it always brought back my appetite. Usually serve as a starter, sometimes as a main pairing with steamed jasmine rice, hmmm… The original version is made with exotic ingredients like green papaya, Asian dried shrimp and fish sauce. For this post, I’m making it vegetarian with ingredients that are easier to find, for example to replace green papaya with rutabaga, which tastes almost the same. The soul of this dish is the chili-lime dressing, which you can use it also as a dipping sauce, and a dressing for other dishes such as noodle salad or beef salad.
I made this dish as a side for my husband’s 26th birthday party last Saturday. Everything was gone beautifully. ;-) My vegetarian relatives loved it too! Other than Som Tam, I also made Malaysian curry chicken, pork dumplings and Thai style spicy tofu with mixed vegetables for our guests. We had a really nice brut to start, continued with a bottle of Alsatian rosé to pair with the food. It was a really nice lunch celebration. Together with our family we bought a bicycle for my husband as a gift and he was really happy about it. Thai chili-lime dressing
4 Garlic, minced
1-2 Chili, minced (deseeded if you are less tolerant)
4 tbsp Soy sauce /Fish sauce
Juice of 2 lime
1 tbsp Brown sugar
1) Pound the chill and garlic with mortar and pestle if you have one.
2) Mix everything together until the sugar dissolved. And voila! You have a lovely Thai dressing.
Continues to the cheat version of Som Tam recipe
(Make 2 servings as main or 4 servings as side)
200g Rutabaga, peeled and thinly shredded
150g Carrot, peeled and thinly shredded
100g Green beans, cut into 1” length
100g Cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp Toasted peanut
1) Blanch green bean in boiling water for about 1 minute. Strain and rinse under cold water, drain well and set aside.
2) Mix all the ingredients together with the Thai chilli-lime dressing. Let it stands for a few minutes in room temperature to absorb the sauce.
3) Take the dish out and discard excessive liquid from the salad. Top with additional roasted peanut or coriander leaves if desired. Serve.
And of course, if you could get green papaya easily then you should definitely use it for this recipe. But in Finland, rutabaga is available all year around in any shops, therefore I’m using it here :-) If you have dried shrimps and are not a vegetarian, toast them and add them here for more authentic taste.
This is a dish that you could adjust according to your preference. Sometimes I like to put more sugar, sometimes I’d put more chili. Taste the sauce before mixing the ingredients in and you are on good hands. I also like to mix this chill-lime dressing with glass noodle, add some mint leaves, cucumber and shallot and it becomes another delicious Thai dish that is perfect for the summer. ;-) I also found a really good post about making Som Tam, check it out here.