Som tam is a highly seasoned green papaya salad sold by street vendors throughout northeast Thailand and Laos. It is made by pounding papaya with other ingredients in a large stone mortar. This version calls for green beans, which are more readily available. To eat the salad in the traditional way, use cabbage wedges to scoop it up.
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1/2 pound very fresh thin green beans, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch lengths
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tablespoon dried shrimp, finely chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted roasted peanuts
1 or 2 bird chiles, minced
1 large garlic clove, halved
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
2 packed cups bite-size pieces of romaine lettuce
Green cabbage wedges, for serving
How to Make It
In a large mortar, working in batches, pound the beans in order to lightly smash them; transfer to a bowl. Add the tomatoes to the mortar and pound them briefly; add the tomatoes to the beans in the bowl.
Add the dried shrimp, peanuts, chiles, garlic, salt and sugar to the mortar and pound to a coarse paste. Stir in the lime juice and fish sauce until blended. Add the dressing to the smashed beans and tomatoes and toss thoroughly.
Line a platter with the lettuce and spoon the bean salad on top. Arrange the cabbage wedges around the salad and serve.
This tangy salad, with its garlic, lime juice and chile, calls for an inexpensive, light-bodied, simple white, such as Soave, Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.
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