ส้มตำ อร่อย มากๆ – Som Dtam yum yum yum

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.

My local som tam stand

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.

Som dtam preparation

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.

As with all food stands in Thailand, take away food is put in a plastic bag and wrapped up with a rubber band.

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.

Sometimes it is served with large shrimp and crabs in the shell.

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

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6 thoughts on “ส้มตำ อร่อย มากๆ – Som Dtam yum yum yum

  1. Som Tam, I like to call it death in a bowl. I have tried several forms, the sweeter version and the blow your head off spicy. The smell now just gets to me, I can smell the carts way before I see them.

    I always enjoy the first time visitor to Thailand who foolishly tries some not expecting the chilis in it. Thais being so willing to share will often let you take a bite and I watched some guy take some waited the required 10 seconds and then he gasped for air and started pouring Signha down his throat which only made things worse. I could not help but laugh at him and once he caught his breath he joined in and said I should have warned him. I told him, “Welcome to Thailand”.

    • Yes, it can be spicy. Advice to readers who don’t like spicy food: order it ‘mai pet’ – not spicy. The kind that my students eat isn’t very spicy, but it’s still delicious.

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