Fah Thai Magazine Sep/Oct 2017


"FAH THAI" is the in-flight magazine of Bangkok Airways Public Company Limited and is edited and published by MPMI Group Ltd.



The Tangy Kick

of Som Tam

Just like the burgeoning popularity of

salad bars and its plethora of ingredients,

there are more than one way to eat Som Tam,

Thailand’s green papaya salad. Know how

to enjoy combinations beyond the classic

with the novel kick of other briny flavours

and textures.

Words: Sarita Urupongsa

Som Tam or green papaya salad

has its humble beginning as

a street food but this popular

dish from the Northeast or

“Isaan” part of Thailand can be

found from off-the-beaten path

eateries to glamorous settings.

Starring in this intensely

satisfying salad are thin strands

of fresh green papaya that

gets coated with the complex

blend of garlic, tomatoes, dried

shrimps and roasted peanuts

pounded with a seasoning base

of spicy, sour, sweet and salty

combinations. The meaning of

“som” means sour while ‘tam’

refers to the pounding done in a

pestle and mortar to release and

blend the juices.

These days, Som Tam can be

ordered in many ways and comes

in various recipes depending

on each person’s preference.

Tam Thai, the basic type of Som

Tam that’s commonly available

reaches perfection and depth of

flavour with dried shrimps and

roasted peanuts; Tam Plaa Raa,

whose recipe requires a sauce

of fermented Thai anchovies

with intense flavours appeal to

the palate of both Thais and

foreigners alike; Tam Sua replaces

green papaya strands with rice

Photos: Dolnapa Ram-Indra

vermicelli; Tam Pu, the recipe

with salted freshwater crabs as

its main taste; to Tam Paa which

combines unusual ingredients like

water mimosas, rice vermicelli,

green papaya strands, fermented

vegetables, fermented bamboo

shoots, apple snails, fermented

crabs and the aforementioned

fermented anchovies: all together

in one dish that produces

an unforgettable savoury


Certainly, a tangy, spicy

Som Tam can never be complete

without side dishes to break

the sweat and elevate the

dining experience. Apart from

complementary bites of steamed

sticky rice, fresh vegetables

such as yardlong beans and

other Isaan dishes like Laab

(minced meat salad), Namtok

(spicy meat salad), Soup Nawmai

(bamboo shoot salad) and grilled

chicken play a big part in

completing the meal.

To many women, Som Tam

also has become their healthy

alternative. The dish itself is

modified in line with lifestyle

choices and trends. Sometimes

it is made with mixed fruits like

pomelos, apples or even the

meat of a young coconut.


• 1 cup of green papaya strands,

add more or less as preferred

• 4 peeled garlic cloves

• 4 Thai bird’s eye chillies

• 3 cherry tomatoes, each cut into 2 parts

• 1 yardlong bean, cut into 2-inch sticks

• 2 tbsp roasted peanuts

• 2 tbsp dried shrimps

• 2 tbsp tamarind juice

• 2 tbsp fish sauce

• 1 tbsp palm sugar

• 1 tbsp lime juice

• 2 salted freshwater crabs

Making Som Tam

• Boil salted freshwater crabs swiftly.

Pull out the shells and gills and

set aside.

• In the mortar, mix bird’s eye chillies

and garlic together and pound them

until a paste forms.

• Add cherry tomatoes, long beans,

dried shrimps and roasted peanuts.

Lightly pound to break fibres and mix

them altogether.

• Season with lime juice, fish sauce,

tamarind juice and palm sugar. Add

and tear salted freshwater crabs in

half into the mix. Pound and blend

the ingredients together.

• Add green papaya strands and

continue to pound so that the juice

seeps into the strands. Make sure

not to pound too hard as the strands

can become brittle and thus lose their

flavour and crunchy texture.

The Best Som Tam

in Bangkok


One enduring Som Tam venue in Bangkok

is Som Tam Nua. Established by people

with a true passion for Isaan food, this

restaurant is known for its signature som

tam recipes. The word “Nua” refers to

foods with a perfectly savoury flavour

and can be applied to both desserts

and main dishes. Som Tam Nua has

extensive salad choices in which the

level of spiciness can be made upon

request. Each Som Tam dish is made of

fresh ingredients to complement the

restaurant’s other popular choices like

fried chicken in a basket, stir-fried rice

vermicelli and spicy water mimosa salad.

5/F Central Embassy, Ploenchit BTS station,

+66 (0) 2160 5909


Hai Somtam Convent is a popular Som Tam

place in the heart of the Silom business

district. With its 20-year legacy, the place

is best known for its fresh, crispy green

papaya strands and tangy flavour and

extensive Som Tam repertoire. The

restaurant offers ingredient alternatives

such as corn, rice vermicelli and fermented

flower crabs as well. Som Tam here is a

spicy burn that comes in a full combination

of spicy, sour, salty and sweet tastes.

Hai Somtam opens until 9pm on weekdays

and 5pm on Saturdays. (Closed on Sundays)

2/4-5, Soi Convent, Silom, Sala Daeng BTS

station, +66 (0) 2631 0216



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