I really love thai food! I even took a thai cookingclass a couple of years ago during a holiday in Hua Hin, Thailand. It was a great experience, we went to the local market to shop our groceries before heading to our teacher’s house to cook together. Here is a link to to the school.
Thai food is all about balance between salty, sour a nd sweet, often with an addition of hot. The holy trinity in thai cooking is fish sauce, lemon/ lime and sugar. Thai lemons are not like ours and there is no consensus in whether they are best substituted with our lemons or lime so do as you please, or use whatever is lying around the house.
This papaya salad, or Som Tam, is traditionally madewith unripe papayas, carrot, long beans, tomatoes, garlic, palm sugar, chili, lemon juice, fish sauce, roasted peanuts and dried shrimps.
For a lowcarb western version I substitute the papaya with rutabagas (or swedes), and skip the carrot. Rutabagas contain about 6,3 % carbs so the carrot would add unnecissary carbs in this dish. Instead I add cucumber for interest and a different texture.
I have to stop for a minute and tell you what I learned from Wikipedia just now: The word Rutabaga originates from the swedish word Rotabagge wich is a regional swedish name fo the rutabaga! Who knew? Maybe the swedes brought the rutabagas with them when they immigrated to USA long ago?
You can use parboiled haricot verts instead of long beans. I didn’t use either this time. I never add dried shrimps because I don’t like them and I skip the chili when having my tom Sam with a spicy dish.
We also have to substitute the palm sugar with sweetener, that goes without saying. Have you noticed your sence of taste alters when eating low carb? I am so sencitive for sweetness I have to reduce the amount of sweetener in all recipies.
After this long introduction we are finally ready to cook!
Som Tam, 4 seervings
- 4 tbsp fish sauce
- juice from 2 limes or 1 1/2 lemon
- 2 garlic cloves
- sweetener equivalent to 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 2 small tomatoes
- 1 small handful toasted peanuts
- 1 red chili (optional)
- 1 tbsp dried shrimp (optional)
- 1 rutabaga, (swede), medium size
- 1/2 cucumber
- 5 parboiled haricot verts (optional)
Start with the dressing. Cruch chili and garlic in a pestle and mortar. Or chop by hand.
Add peanuts, tomatoes cut into wedges (and shrimps if using) and cruch them lightly. Or chop by hand.
Add fish sauce, lemon/ lime juice and sweetener. Stir until sweetener is disolved. (Or let it stand and dissolve while prepping the veggies)
Taste. Adjust amount of lemon/ lime juice, fish sause and sweetener until the dressing is well balanced to your taste.
Now onto the veggies!
Peel the rutabaga. Now we need to transform it into long slim sticks. This can be done by hand or you can use a device like mine. You can also just grate it coarsly, the taste will be the same, it will just not look as neat.
Cut the cucumber into thicker sticks.
Cut haricot verts into 1/2 inch, or 0,5 cm, long pieces.
Place vegetables in a bowl. Add dressing. Mix. Leave to soak in flavours for a while. Give the salad a taste. Does it taste too little? Then you might have to mix some more fish sause, lemon/lime juicie and sweetener and add.
Eat instead of carbs with tai food. Enjoy!