Som Tum, a Green Papaya POK POK
Pok Pok is the sound made when a wooden pestle hits a clay mortar. This is a classic sound in the green papaya making process and it is a familiar sound for Thais and tourists alike because Som Tum vendors are everywhere in Thailand. When I teach papaya salad recipes, I make sure to carry my clay mortar and wooden pestle with me to my cooking classes in Seattle, Lynwood, Edmonds and even Portland. I feel that it is important for students to understand the cultural and traditional aspects of Thai cuisine. For me, making and eating green papaya salad is a cure for homesickness. But is not easy to find green papayas outside of Thailand, so sometimes we have to improvise.
Carrots are always a great substitute when fresh green papaya is not available. My first experience eating Som Tum made from other vegetables besides green papaya was when I was traveling in Switzerland and France visiting friends and relatives.
In Seattle you can find green papaya everyday at the Asian markets, but at farmers market events in Washington I always enjoy making Som Tum with various farm fresh vegetables. And I am always delighted that it still makes a great impression on everyone. First the Pok, Pok sound, then the flavors of chili-lime and peanuts dressing that make all fresh salad tastes so good. My favorite vegetables and fruits for this recipe are carrots, kale, green apples, green mangos, green beans and cucumbers.
Yesterday I was making special version of Som Tum for a Pike Place Market Sunday Event. I combined Som Tum made from local carrots and kale with cooked rice noodles and smoked local King salmon. Combining Thai and northwest flavors together using a mortar and pestle produced a delicious dish. Let’s cook with the Thai rhythms!
Please also see Pranee’s Somtum Recipe featured in Seattle Times, Pacific Northwest Sunday Magazine
SOM TUM PLA SALMON
Green Papaya Salad with Smoked Salmon and Rice VermicelliServings: 4 3-6 garlic cloves, peeled 5 Thai chilies, whole 2-3 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar 6 tablespoons dry roasted peanuts 3 tablespoons fish sauce 3 tablespoons lime juice ¼ lime, cut into 4 small wedges 8 cherry tomatoes, halved, or 2 large tomatoes cut into wedges ½ cup green beans, cut into 1 inch lengths 2 ounce smoked salmon, sliced, about ¼ cup, divided 2 cups shredded green papaya, carrot, cabbage, kale or any fresh vegetable 1 cup rice noodles or rice vermicelli, cooked using the instruction on the package
To make a dressing, use a wooden pestle to crush garlic, chilies, palm sugar and 1 tablespoon roasted peanuts in a clay mortar until it forms a paste. Stir in fish sauce and lime juice with pestle in circular motion until blended. With pestle, gently mix in lime wedges, tomatoes, string beans, half of the smoked salmon and shredded papaya by pushing down the ingredients against one side of the mortar and using a large spoon to lift up on the opposite side. Repeat a few times until well incorporated. Serve right away with rice noodles and topped with the rest of the smoked salmon.
Cook’s note: If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, here is an easy way to make a salad dressing. Blend garlic, Thai chilies, palm sugar, 1 tablespoon roasted peanuts, fish sauce and lime juice in a blender until smooth. Mix the rest of peanuts, string beans, dried shrimps, tomatoes and green papaya in a salad bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently mix them together by hand until salad is well coated with the dressing.© 2010 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area. Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com