“Som tam is best known outside Thailand as ‘green papaya salad’, but it is actually less about the papaya and more about the process,” reveals former Masterchef Australia winner Adam Liaw. “Lightly pounding vegetables releases their juices which mix into a fresh, flavourful dressing.” With that in mind, Adam has created his own spin on som tam in his new cookbook Adam’s Big Pot: Easy Meals For Your Family (Hachette; $39.99). “This carrot and cucumber version is light and delicious, and you don’t need to track down green papayas, which aren’t always available,” explains Adam. Let’s tuck in!
Carrot and Cucumber Som Tam
Serves: 2 (or more as part of a shared meal)
Soak time: 20 minutes
Prep time: 10 minutes
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 bird’s-eye chillies
1 tbsp dried shrimp, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes (optional)
50ml lime juice
2 tsp coconut palm sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 continental cucumber, peeled, deseeded and cut into matchsticks
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 cup green beans or snake beans, trimmed and cut into 5cm lengths
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup crushed roasted peanuts
- In a large mortar place the garlic, chillies and dried shrimp (if using) and pound to a rough paste.
- Add the lime juice and coconut palm sugar and continue to pound until the sugar dissolves. Taste the mixture and adjust the sweetness if necessary with more sugar or lime juice – it should be slightly sweet, like lemonade.
- Then add the fish sauce a little at a time until the dressing tastes quite savoury.
- Add the cucumber, carrot, beans and tomatoes and gently pound them to bruise them and release their juices.
- Stir the peanuts through and serve.
TIP: For a larger meal, stir through some crab meat, cooked prawns or shredded chicken.