Clay's Kitchen : Tam Ra Ahan Thai (Thai Recipes) ตำราอาหารไทย

Tam Ra Ahan Thai (Thai Recipes) ตำราอาหารไทย

© Copyright 1995-2023, Clay Irving <>, Manhattan Beach, CA USA

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Som Tam Isan (Green Papaya Salad) ส้มตำอีสาน

Recipe from: Colonel Ian F. Khuntilanont-Philpott

This is a version of the som tam (papaya salad) recipe that is commonly eaten as a snack, as breakfast, or with pad thai as lunch.

This is a typical Isan (north east) dish. It can be made with or without the pla ra (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.

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. 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 Waldorf Salad as a side dish

Click on picture to enlarge (© Photograph by Clay Irving)
The picture to the left is Som Tam at a restaurant in Thailand. This version was incredibly hot and spicy! It is made with julienne strips of green papaya, prik ki nu (fiery Thai chiles), kratieum (garlic), raw crab, prik chi fa daeng (Thail jalapeño chiles), nam pla (fish sauce), long beans, Nam Manao (lime juice), and ma kua teet (tomato).

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 optional.

1 cup papaya (paw-paw) julienned.
1 cup of prik ki nu daeng (red birdseye or dynamite chilis). These are normally de-stalked, cut in four length-wise then in half cross-wise.
8 to 10 cloves of garlic, chopped coarsely,
½ cup of prik chi fa daeng (red Thai jalapeños)
½ cup of long beans cut into 1 inch pieces (Thai long beans if possible)
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons of fish sauce
¼ cup of tamarind juice
juice from two tablespoons of pickled mud-fish.

Sprinkle the julienned papaya with salt and let stand for half an hour or so, then squeeze and discard any fluid.

Dissolve two teaspoons of MSG (optional, but recomended), in two tablespoons of lime juice. Add half of this to the papaya, and half to the sliced prik ki nu, and allow to marinade for about an hour.

Mix these ingredients, and bruise them in a mortar and pestle.

Julienne the red jalapenas, and mix all the ingredients.

Serve with a bowl of sticky rice, or a plate of pad thai.

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