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Thai Som Tam

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This week’s recipe idea is the last in my Thai inspired series (see recipes tab for the others) and is arguably one of the best salads ever – Thai Som Tam (Spicy Papaya Salad).
I discovered a few good ones on my recent travels and also enjoyed a few interesting variations like the inclusion of pineapple, mango, cabbage, swedes and radish.
They were all very good so feel free to add and experiment. Happy Asian salad making and local food eating!

This week’s produce update – back on this list this week is our favourite Hampton Hives honey (our local bees have recovered!), as well as local Kale, Gala Apples, Broccoli and Lemons. Seasonally – Afourer mandarins have unfortunately come to an end, as have our local Potatoes. 
Our local Navel oranges are around for a few more weeks, although I have had reports of some dry ones in the mix. If this is your experience , please let me know and I will happily credit your order. Valencia oranges will be available in a few weeks. I have also been offered some free fresh organic hampton lime leaves (for tom yum soup, green and red curries) – if you would like some of these it’s on the order sheet.

 This spicy salad is one of Thailand’s best known exports and it’s so delicious!  At the same time spicy and refreshingly crunchy; intensely savoury and contrastingly sour – in short, the pure flavours of south-east Asia on a plate, and the only salad to make it into the list of “the world’s 50 most delicious foods”. 
Som Tam, which literally means “Sour Pounded”, is a spicy salad made from a mix of fresh vegetables including shredded unripened papaya (or cucumber), beans (or snow peas will also do)  and tomato. Som Tam is unique that the spicy dressing and salad vegetables are pounded and mixed in the mortar using a pestle.
Som tam is great when served with BBQ chicken, fish or prawns and sticky rice. Som Tam is also immensely good for you in that it contains no fat, is low in calories and high in vitamins. This is a truly authentic Thai dish that will make a great impression.

  • 2 tbsp. small or dried shrimp, rinsed (optional)

  • 3 tbsp. roasted peanuts or cashews (not roasted is also ok)

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • Pinch of coarse sea salt

  • 2-6 whole birds eye chillies, depending on degree of bravery (or use just the skin of a large red chilli – much cooler!)

  • 6  beans or 12 snow peas, cut into 1cm lengths

  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved (larger tomatoes quartered/diced)

  • 2-3 baby carrots, julienned

  • 1 lime cut into wedges, plus 3 tbsp. lime juice

  • 275g green papaya (about 1 medium fruit), alternately 2 cucumbers work very well too

  • 1 tbsp. tamarind water (optional)

  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce (or a small anchovy, finely chopped)

  • 2 tbsp. shaved palm sugar (or rice malt syrup)

  • Add some fresh mango too if you like!

  • Put a small frying pan on a medium-high heat or use the BBQ.  Rinse the shrimp, pat dry and then dry fry for about four minutes until crisp. Tip out and toast the nuts until browned, then tip out, roughly chop and set aside. 

  • Mash the garlic with a pinch of coarse salt in a pestle and mortar, then add the shrimp and two thirds of the nuts and crush to a rough paste. Add the chillies and just bruise lightly (unless you want it really spicy, in which case pound away!).

  • Add the beans/snow peas, carrots, tomatoes and lime wedges to the mortar and roughly bruise with the pestle, then scoop the lot out into a bowl (unless you have a very large pestle and mortar in which case you can leave them in). 

  • Peel the papaya/cucumber and cut into narrow matchsticks; a julienne peeler or mandolin is ideal, but you can use a sharp knife if not. Working in batches if necessary, lightly bruise in the pestle and mortar then add to the bowl.

  • Mix the lime juice, tamarind water, fish sauce and sugar in the mortar until the sugar has dissolved, then taste; it should be a balance of sour, salty and sweet. Adjust as necessary.

  • Toss the dressing and the salad ingredients together, making sure the nut paste is well distributed, and sprinkle with the remaining nuts before serving.


Thank you to Felicity Cloake for the Guardian

Have a great week ahead.

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