Som Tum anyone?

by Forager on April 2, 2009

There have already been a few posts dedicated to this delectable Thai green papaya salad, but how can one get enough of som tum? When friends just back from the UK asked us to pick up some som tum ingredients the next time we head out west to Cabramatta, we happily obliged as it gave us reason to make the salad for ourselves. I follow a recipe I got from a simple rustic cookbook I picked up in Pai, Thailand. There are lots of variations of som tum depending on what meat you add to it, (my favourite is som tum pu with salted black field crabs) but this one is the basic version sans field crabs which are too fishy for the co-pilot.

Serves 2 as a main

1 small – medium green papaya, peeled and shredded into thin julienne strips (see my special som tum tool)
6 snake beans cut approx, into 5cm lengths (fills about 1 cup)
6 Thai eggplants, quartered
1 punnet of ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
A handful of dried prawns
A handful of crushed peanuts to garnish

4 medium hot chillis (or to taste)
3 large cloves of garlic (the original recipe calls for 5 cloves if you’re game)
1 tbl palm sugar
2 tbl fish sauce (I use the squid brand for more “fish flavour”, less saltiness)
2 large limes, juiced

Prepare all the raw ingredients for the salad as per the ingredients list and pound in a mortar and pestle – the green papaya, snake beans and Thai eggplants can take a good beating, the tomatoes and prawns only need gentle squashing. Transfer all the ingredients to a bowl and prepare pour over the dressing. I find it tastes best when left for about 20 – 30 minutes to marinate in the dressing and voila!

Simple and delicious. With the left over lime juice the co-pilot prepared some frozen margaritas (crushed ice, lime juice, tequila) which were admittedly awesome even for a person like me who has been scarred indefinitely by over zealous tequila quaffing.

Whilst we sipped on those and marinated the salad the co-pilot grilled some marinated barramundi fillets. The marinade contained coriander, parsley lime juice, jalapeno peppers, preserved lemon slivers and chopped red onions. A sort of Asian/Latin American flavour I suppose. Served grilled with the som tum on the side makes for a perfect light meal. Pairing it with a 2003 Pokolbin Estate late picked Riesling was the icing on the cake.

I had my own Nigella moment last night when post-dinner outing, I snuck into the kitchen for a few mouthfuls of leftover som tum. Marinated overnight in the dressing juices makes it so much better – unbelievably so. Except the co-pilot heard the cutlery sounds and yelled “Oi! I know what you’re doing in there”. I bet Nigella doesn’t get berrated like that. *sigh*

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 lili - pikelet & pie April 3, 2009 at 10:47 am

Oh looks so good. Often I can’t order Som Tum in a restaurant because my partner is allergic to peanuts, but I love it, so I should make it at home! Thanks for the inspiration (and the recipe :))

2 Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella April 3, 2009 at 11:09 am

I love Som Tum! I recall having it for the first time on holiday in Phuket and having someone make it for us on this gorgeous beach setting and thinking that it tasted really amazingly fresh. Crocodile Senior Thai in Chinatown has lots of different variations on the Som Tum too :)

LOL at Nigella moment!

3 Forager April 3, 2009 at 2:12 pm

Hey Lili – You should! It’s got to be one of my favourite salads. And it’s dead easy to make! If you’re not close to the Western Suburbs you can get the ingredients from the Thai groceries near Capitol Theatre (they might even have that som tum shaver tool – I bought mine in Cabramatta).

Hey Lorraine – Som Tum eaten on holiday in Thailand makes it taste a million times better. Paying about $2AUD for it helps as well! A Thai friend of mine recommended Crocodile Snr Thai too but I haven’t made it there yet. So many places to eat – so little time!
I knew you’d appreciate the Nigella moment!

4 April 3, 2009 at 3:24 pm

Oh, I love som tum too! Hot and tangy! It’s so good. i love my local Devonshire thai in Surry Hills…yum…hmm maybe dinner tonight!

5 Forager April 6, 2009 at 10:38 am

Hey – I haven’t tried Devonshire Thai yet. In the surry hills area I’ve made it as far as Prasits on crown. Gotta broaden my perimeters and try your local!

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