All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Hayatouri no somutamu / som tam salad with chayote

While green papaya is probably the best known ingredient for som tam, many vegetables are equally tasty in the dish. The aroma of garlic, chili peppers and dried shrimp as they are pounded together takes me back to the streets of Bangkok. You are supposed to pound the main fresh vegetable as well, but to make it easy for tired or lazy arms and also to cut back on the amount of nam pla, in the following recipe the veggie is first mixed with sugar to let out some moisture.

1/2 of recipe:
104 calories; 5.0 g protein; 3.4 g fat; 15.1 g carbohydrate; 11.8 g net carbs; 132 mg sodium; 15 mg cholesterol; 3.3 g fiber


1 hayatouri chayote (355 g in photo)
Small handful cherry/grape tomatoes (7 tomatoes/52 g in photo)
Tiny handful green beans (6 green beans/28g in photo)
1 clove garlic
2-3 prik kee noo Thai chili peppers
1 tbsp shami dried shrimp (6 g in photo)
1 tbsp peanuts (unsalted, raw or roasted)
1/2 tbsp brown sugar, plus generous pinch for flavoring
1/2 lime
3/4 tsp nam pla
1/2 tsp tamarind paste


Toast peanuts without oil until aromatic, and let cool.


Remove stem ends of green beans, and microwave for 15-20 seconds.
Uncover, and let cool.


Cut chayote in half, peel and seed, and julienne (somewhat thick like matches).

Place chayote in a bowl, sprinkle brown sugar, mix well, and let sit for 5+ minutes until desired softness is achieved.


In the meantime, halve cherry tomatoes, cut green beans into 4-5cm, and chop garlic, shami dried shrimp and chili peppers.


In a mortar, crush garlic, shami dried shrimp and chili peppers.
Transfer to a mixing bowl (optional, not needed if your mortar is large enough).


Squeeze out excess water from chayote, and mix with crushed garlic, shami and chilies.

Add green beans, and mix.
Add tomatoes, tamarind paste, lime juice (squeeze half, not completely), 1/2-2/3 of specified amount of nam pla, and peanuts; mix while gently pounding all ingredients together.

Let sit for 5 minutes or so.


Taste, and add brown sugar, nam pla and lime juice as necessary.

  • Chayote lets out water relatively quickly. Allowing it to sit too long after sprinkling with brown sugar would result in an overly soft texture. Ideally, the vegetable should still be somewhat crisp when mixed with other ingredients.
  • If green beans are super fresh, juicy and tender, there is no need to pre-cook them.
  • Brown sugar is a substitute for palm sugar.
  • If prik kee noo is not available, try serrano peppers.
  • If you are strong enough, there is no need to chop up garlic, shami dried shrimp and chilies before pounding them.
  • Among the ingredients, sodium content of shami dried shrimp and nam pla varies significantly by brand. The shami dried shrimp I use contains 450 mg sodium per 30 g, and the nam pla contains 690 mg per tablespoon.
  • Actual sodium content is lower than the figure above, when dressing pooled on plate is not consumed at the table.
  • Among widely available vegetables, carrot is a popular choice for som tam (photo at right; made with two medium carrots, served with cabbage).

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