|Som Tam Isan (papaya Salad)|
Som tam is a basic "salad" style dish, eaten as a snack.
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 ...)
Sprinkle the julienned papaya with salt and let stand for half an hour or so, then squeeze and discard any fluid. add the chili, and pound in a mortar and pestle, add the remaining ingredients except the tomato, and pound until mixed and tender. Add the tomato, and serve with a bowl of sticky rice.
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. On the other hand you can redice the cilis to just a hint is left and it will also still be authentic. 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 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 Wldorf Salad as a side dish...
From: Colonel I. F. K. Philpott
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