Backcountry Asian Cooking
— Thai —
Som Tum Salad
by Harvey Halpern

This northeastern Thai salad is wildly popular throughout Thailand. Tum means to pound with mortar and pestle and Som means sour. Though traditionally made with unripened green papaya, this version uses cabbage and carrots.


5 Fresh Thai Chilies
1 tbl. Coarse Chopped Garlic
1 cup Finely Shredded Carrot
1 cup Finely Shredded Green Cabbage
10 Green Beans cut in 2–inch lengths — halved widthwise first
1 tsp. Brown Sugar
2.5 tbl Fish Sauce
Juice of 3 Limes
1½ tsp. Coarsely Chopped Shallot
10 Cherry Tomatos quartered


In a morter combine Chilies, Garlic, Shallot. Pound until they are broken down but not mushy.

Add the Carrots and Cabbage and pound for 3 minutes.

Add Green Beans and bruise them, then add Sugar and Fish Sauce, pounding after each.

Add Lime and Tomatoes and pound for one more minute.

Dehydrate at 130° Fahrenheit for 6–8 hours.

Rehydrate in the field by adding ½ cup water more if necessary.

It’s really great. You might want to experiment at home to see if 6 Chilies is right for you.


© 2008 Harvey Halpern