Sunday, 7 June 2009

Som Tam Issan

This will complement your Kai Yang dish exquisitely. It's another offering from the North East of Thailand and one that has become famous through out the country for it's careful combination of 4 flavours: sweet, spicy, sour and salty.

Have fun with it.

One papaya julienne.(or use carrot julienne)
8-10 Thai chili peppers, de-stalked, cut in four length-wise then in half cross-wise.
8-10 cloves of garlic, chopped coarsely
2 tomatoes sliced thinly
half a cup of long beans (green beans) cut into 1" pieces
pinch of sea salt
two teaspoons of fish sauce - nam pla
1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate mixed with 3 tablespoons water
juice from two tablespoons of pickled mud-fish - Bala. (optional)

1. Sprinkle the julienne papaya with salt and let stand for half an hour or so, then squeeze and discard any fluid.
2. Add the chili, and pound in a clay mortar and pestle.
3. Add the remaining ingredients except the tomato,
4. pound until mixed and tender.
5. Add the tomato, and serve with a bowl of sticky rice.
An optional ingredient you can add to the mix is dried shrimp.

You can increase the proportion of chilies until this is a bowl of red fire, and it will still be authentic. On the other hand you can reduce the chilies to just a hint and it will also still be authentic. It all depends on your taste preference.
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 can also include raw bean sprouts and sliced cucumber as side dishes. Thai's 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 Waldorf Salad as a side dish.

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