ส้มตำ อร่อย มากๆ – Som Dtam yum yum yum
ส้มตำ som dtam, som tum, or som tam, means papaya salad however it’s written. It is a quintessential Thai salad that combines savory, sweet, sour, and spicy flavors in one dish. Although its origins are from Northeastern (Isaan) Thailand, it is widely available throughout the whole of Thailand. It is easy to find little food stands with someone pound pound pounding the ingredients of som dtam in a large wooden mortar and pestle surrounded by people awaiting their delicious meal and ordering their salad to taste.
Though som tam means ‘pounded sour’ it’s actually a combination of several flavors. The ingredients vary a bit but generally they are: Thai chillies, garlic, unripe green papaya, long beans, carrots, tamarind juice, lime juice, fish sauce, small dried shrimp palm sugar, tomatoes, and peanuts. It is often served with ข้าวเหนียว khao niow– sticky rice, which is great for sopping up all the spicy/sour juice left in the bowl.
Yesterday, I ordered it to my taste entirely in Thai (spicy, with no shrimp or crab) from a local spot and got the spiciest som dtam I’ve ever eaten! In the more touristy areas, even if a Westerner asks for spicy dishes, they usually aren’t spicy by Thai standards. I guess if you speak some Thai, and order it in a Thai neighborhood, it gets significantly spicier.
Although I think som dtam is just about perfect (and apparently it was ranked by CNN as one of the 50 most delicious foods), it doesn’t seem like something children would like. Much to my surprise, my Thai students absolutely love som dtam, the other Asian students also enjoy it, whereas the Western students seem to like it to varying degrees in relation to how long they’ve lived in Thailand. It quickly became my sister’s favorite Thai food when she visited.
Does it sound good? Here’s a recipe: http://www.goodearthpeanuts.com/recipes/SomDtam.htm Truth be told, the only time I’ve ever made it was in a Thai cooking class. It’s just easier, cheaper, and more delicious to buy at the food stands. It usually costs right around 30 baht (just less than $1 USD).
I think I know what I’ll have for dinner tonight. ส้มตำ อร่อย มากๆ