And you were all right. Very, very right.
I don't know how authentic my version of this salad is (probably not very), but it was enough to win me over. In fact, it was enough to make me swoon. My mouth danced. My soul danced. My memories of this salad are still, right now, dancing.
It is amazing that something so simple can be so good. I can only add my praise and delight to that already heaped on this dish, which is so exquisite and so wonderful that it is entirely deserving of its place in this list of 'top 50 foods'.
If there is anyone like I was a week ago, who hasn't yet tried som tam, please do yourself a favour and try it. Whether you make it yourself or find somewhere to buy it, I am sure you won't regret the experience. I know I don't.
Som Tam salad
Good in all the ways
1 green papaya, peeled
Decent handful of green beans, ends chopped off
2-3 cm (1 inch) piece of palm sugar
2 tbsp water
1 red birds eye chilli, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 - 2 tbsp crushed peanuts
6 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
Small bunch fresh mint, chopped, optional
Grate or thinly cut the papaya, by hand or using a food processor. I used a slicer attachment on my food processor.
Place the green beans in a bowl of boiling water and allow to sit for 3-5 minutes.
Place the palm sugar and 2 tbsp water in a small bowl and melt over the stove top or in the microwave.
Combine the chopped chilli and crushed garlic in a small bowl. Mash with the back of a spoon. (If you have a mortar and pestle, using those would be more authentic.) Add the melted palm sugar, lime juice and soy sauce, and mix together well.
Place the papaya, green beans, red pepper and tomatoes in a large bowl, then add the chilli-garlic-sugar-lime-soy mixutre and stir well to combine.
Serve topped with crushed peanuts and optional chopped mint.
From what I can gather, a traditional version would make use of a mortar and pestle for mixing the dressing ingredients, would include fish flavours (fish sauce and possibly shrimp), and wouldn't include red pepper or mint. I hope to taste a Thai-prepared plate of this one day, but for now, this version will do me just fine. In fact, if possible, I would happily eat it daily for the foreseeable future.
Thank you, all of you, for telling me to try this. It's going down as one of my life changing food experiences for 2013!
Submitted to Ricki's Wellness Weekend 25th to 29th April 2013.
What are your som tam experiences? Or is there anyone like I was until recently, who hasn't yet tried it?