Thai Cooking – Som Tam (ส้มตำ)
Originally of Lao origin (Tam Som), Som Tam (Green Papaya Salad) is now a recognized Thai dish which made it into the “World’s 50 most delicious dishes” published by CNN Go in 2011. It was introduced to central Thailand by people from Laos and Isan (Thai province bordering Laos) moving to Bangkok in the search for work. It is now prepared in many variations all over SE-Asia and in the western world, where it is mostly known under its Thai name “Som Tam”. The reversal of the Lao name means exactly the same like in Laos: “pounded sour”. It is appealing to the 5 main tastes of the Thai cuisine which are: Sour from the lime, spicy from the chillies, umami (pleasant savory), salty and sweet from the palm sugar. The green papaya itself is not sweet at all and has a slightly tangy flavor and a firm and crispy texture.
There are variations of pounded salads which do not necessarily contain papaya. It can be prepared as well with fruits for a more sweet taste. These salads are called Tam Pohlamay e.g. and we will show them to you in another cooking lesson.