Posts Tagged ‘som tam’

For the past few months, I have been eating lunch Monday–Friday at the school where I teach kindergarten. The food started off mediocre and has gotten progressively worse throughout the semester. I told myself that I would only eat out once a week, in an attempt to save money. However, for someone who loves food as much as I do, having four awful meals a week just wasn’t working out.

Thankfully, I discovered a som tam lady. I have had som tam many times in Thailand so it would be more accurate to say I discovered my latest som tam lady.  While taking a short motorbike drive to grab a diet coke from the local convenience store, I spotted her. The piles of shredded papaya and limes were a dead give away.

Som tam is a classic spicy Thai salad. Unlike most western dishes, som tam’s flavors are multi-dimensional; sweet, sour, spicy and salty. The dish is made by pulverizing the ingredients with a mortar and pestle. The process begins with a handful of small Thai garlic and fresh red chilies (I have to ask for, “neung prik kha”, one pepper please). Then comes the sauce: a mixture of fish sauce, palm sugar, freshly squeezed limejuice, and salt.  A large handful of shredded papaya, plum tomatoes, green long beans and peanuts mak mak (lots) are added to the mortar to finish the dish. The concoction is tossed in the sauce and served alongside sticky rice.

Som tam is a great alternative when I get to the point where I just can’t eat another rice dish. Needless to say, my som tam lady is a lifesaver, or at least my lunch saver. By now she knows to leave out the fermented shrimp and raw crab and gives me extra peanuts to compensate. Already, I have had som tam for lunch four times this week (and it is Thursday). Can you guess what my lunch will be tomorrow?


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