By Songsorn Junsunjai, restaurateur, Baan Ying
What’s a good Som Tum? It ought to be crisp, lively and spicy, says Baan Ying’s owner, Khun John (Songsorn Junsunjai). The best way to eat it? Freshly tossed – straight from the mortar into a serving plate. Absolutely aroy! John shares a technique on how to prepare his family’s version of this classic tangy Thai papaya salad.
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2-3 persons
5 cloves garlic, peeled
2 bird’s-eye chillies
20g long beans, cut into 4cm segments
5 cherry tomatoes, halved
150g unripe papaya, peeled, shredded and chilled
Roasted peanuts, a handful
Dried shrimps, a handful, medium-sized
1½ tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon Thai palm sugar, broken up
1½ teaspoon tamarind pulp extract*
1 medium green lime, extract 20ml juice
1.Seasoning: Combine B ingredients in small mixing bowl. Using a fork, whisk until palm sugar has melted and is well blended into liquid ingredients.
2. Chill shredded papaya while preparing other ingredients. Som Tum is traditionally made using a Thai wooden mortar and pestle. Som in Thai means sour, whereas Tum is to pound in a mortar. In addition, Tum also refers to a range of salads made using the mortar, which can include other vegetables such as green mango, cucumber and even kohlrabi (German cabbage) in place of green papaya.
3. In a large Thai wooden mortar and pestle, pound garlic first followed by chilli. Add more chilli if desired. For a non-spicy version, don’t pound the chilli. Alternatively, use Serrano chilli (see photo of long red chillies below), which is sweet with a very mild level of spiciness. Or, omit the chilli altogether.
4. Next, add in long beans and pound in a rhymthmic action – tum, tum, tum to simulate the sound of pounding. Don’t over-crush beans or they become too mushy.
5. Add in tomato and toss together with bean mixture.
6. Pour seasoning over salad. Mix well to ensure vegetables are coated with seasoning.
7. Add in papaya, gently pound briefly.
8. Next, sprinkle peanuts over salad followed by dried shrimps. Toss together till well mixed.
9. Serve immediately. Pair it with Chang Beer, a full-bodied lager characterised by crisp, smooth tasting notes.
TIP: Chose unripe papaya – press it gently to ensure it has a firm texture. Chill shredded papaya for 1-2 hours before preparing salad. This prevents papaya from going limp. Do not let it stand uncovered at room temperature as it loses moisture and starts to shrivel if exposed too long.
NOTE: Mix 1 teaspoon of tamarind pulp (asam jawa) with 3 teaspoons of warm water to extract 1½ teaspoons. Use remaining extract for other dishes.
TECHNIQUE: Pounding ingredients in a Thai mortar – follow pounding sequence as directed in the recipe. Start with garlic first – pounding should always begin with ingredients with hard, firm texture. When pounding, do it gently – just a few bashes in short spurts. Don’t pound ingredients to a pulp – too much moisture is released and this will make the salad soggy.
Baan Ying: Home-style cooking is at the heart of Baan Ying, a Bangkok culinary institution of two decades. The new Singapore outpost is run by Khun Songsorn Junsunchai with his mother, Khun Oranuj Thareererg, better known as Auntie Ying to her loyal clientele.
Chang Beer: Som Tum was developed to pair with Chang Beer as part of the Chang Sensory Trails 2018 in Singapore taking place from August 31-September 1.
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