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Friday, August 13, 2010

Raw Cucumber Salad SE Asian Style (Som Tum) - Cucumber Series #3



Seemed to be a frequently asked question on why I have so many leftover cucumbers. I figured I should touch base on the story a bit. If you remember the NAAAP-Seattle Picnic that I cooked and served for its members, yep the leftover cucumbers were from that event. I had about 5 cucumbers left. I made dishes around it about 2-3 weeks ago or so (spread out), and I'm behind on posting them. So, here I am, blogging about the cucumber series -teehee. I have quite a few lined up in my queue as I've been slacking off and I only post twice a week. I have to say August is a crazy busy month for me. Birthdays, weddings, special occasions, events, personal arrangements, etc. Man they come every weekend!

Today's cucumber series # 3 is raw cucumber salad -South East Asian style. I don't like cucumber cold soup. It doesn't get along well with me. So, the better way for me is to make a salad. Plus, I already made a soup on the last post. Almost everything on this salad is raw. The dressing is very close to the one on the fried egg salad; just a few components are different. It's also used for papaya salad (Som Tom) in Thai cuisine. (Stella, here's to you! I hope I answered your question and that papaya tree near you can be used


Papaya salad has 2 different kinds -Thai style and Laotian style (with fermented fish and salted fresh water crab). They both are commonly found in Thailand and are famous in the North East of Thailand. The dressing I refer to on this post is the Thai version.



Cucumber alone doesn't ring my belly bell but other components help bring the dish right down my alley. Traditionally, a mortar and pestle are key pieces of equipment to make the dish. You pound, mix, and turn in rhythm like a popping dance. Since I don't have them, I need to find a way to fix my craving. It works just fine and I'm satisfied how it turned out. You will see those common 3 ingredients -lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar, again. Except this time we used palm sugar instead. I also found a good instructional video on how to make papaya salad and would like to share, in case you haven't experienced it! You will then "kinda" agree with me that my ad hoc method works -smile.

I found a good palm sugar and in fact it was my first time working with this bad boy. It was hard like stone! I knew I needed it melted but how? I cut it in a big chunk and was hoping a microwave would help. Nah ah..not at all, microwave was a bad idea. After it melted, it turned hard like a rock again; even harder. I went to another Asian market weeks after and saw different type of palm sugar. It was smaller and softer but didn't smell as good as the one I have.

Here's my ad hoc method. 

Since my palm sugar is a hard big round disk, I used a cheese grater to grate it. It worked like magic. So, I grated it for a little over 1/2 cup and the rest was put back in a zip lock. I then used a knife tapping on cut green beans just like when you tap garlic one at a time. Cut cucumber into strips, and halved cherry tomatoes. Mix with dressing and use a wooden spoon to pound and mix. Oh, yes of course, I threw in dry shrimps and roasted chopped peanuts for sure!

Tapped green beans

Dressing, dry shrimps, roated peanuts

Raw Cucumber SE Asian Salad
Yield: 2 for main dish and 4 for side salad

1 English cucumber, thick julienne or cut to strip
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup 1" in length green beans
2 hard boiled eggs
1/4 cup dry shrimps
1/4 cup minus 2 tbs roasted peanuts

1/2 cup grated palm sugar
3 tbs fish sauce
2 limes, juice
2 cloves garlic
3 Bird's eye chillies (medium spicy)

  • Put garlic and chillies in a food processor; pulse 5 times or until they're coarsely chopped
  • Place garlic chili mixture in a bowl. Add palm sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice. Whisk well until sugar dissolves. Taste to correction or your desire.
  • Use a knife tapping on cut green beans just like when you tap garlic one at a time.
  • Add all the raw veggies -cucumber, carrots, tomatoes, and green beans in a big bowl. Pour salad dressing over. 
  • Use a wooden spoon to mix, pound, and turn until everything is coated with dressing. This will take a few mins.
  • Add dry shrimps, and peanuts except the 2 tbs. Mix and turn one more round.
  • Divide it into a bowl and top with chopped peanuts. Serve with boiled egg.
  • Enjoy the taste of SE Asia!

Add all the raw veggies in a bowl

Pour the dressing over, and mix



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denise @ quickies on the dinner table said...

I love your salad Tanantha! I've had salads like this which featured mainly green papaya, green mango or long beans and also a similar Indonesian salad called gado gado, so what can I say, except "I WANT!!!"

Magic of Spice said...

Gorgeous salad...Love the dressing, and your method is perfect. The video was great too...I had it on and popped into the kitchen to refill my coffee - turned around and Kabo kitty was on the chair perched up and watching the video, everyones a cook around here, lol :)

Anonymous said...

Wow how gorgeous!! This looks so fresh and delicious!!

Monet said...

I agree..this looks delicious. I love the hard boiled egg on the side too. I am such a sucker for those things! I imagine that the dressing was delightful...I'm all about a bit of spice. Thanks for sharing love!

lequan@luvtoeat said...

Hey Tanantha,

I'm not a huge fan of salads but I really like Asian salads. My two favorites are green mango salad and papaya salad. Your cucumber salad looks beautiful and sounds wonderful. 5 cucumbers? That's a lot of salads, teehee. Thank you for sharing that video as well.

Pacheco Patty said...

Hi Tanantha, Are you trying to torture me posting this right before lunch on Facebook when I don't have time to run over to Thailand and have the salad on the video, which is one of my favorites too!, for lunch!! Bad enough I can't try your salad either, just have to be satisfied with looking:-( I will pick one of the cucumbers from my garden today and make some for myself this weekend, lol!

Baking Barrister said...

I had a salad similar to this in Laos and loved it. I will have to try!

~Lisa~ said...

OH Yumm! Refreshing and light. And I like that you're using up the leftover cucumbers, I hate wasting food. Love the presentation and the photos! Nice job Tanantha (=

Chef Dennis said...

your images are so very beautiful, it really brings your food to life! You did a great job with this salad, it looks so fresh and delicious!

Stella said...

Hey Tanantha! I think your'e the blog salad queen-seriously. I never see a salad I want to try except here! I see other stuff I want to try, of course, but you've 'got it' when it comes to raw and awesome.
Cauldron Boy wants this one too btw, and he was in awe of your photos. He was like 'that's a lot work'.
p.s. When I make this, I'll take pics and post;)

Marisa said...

I love the cucumber series. I am in cucumber heaven! I also love palm sugar--I can eat it just as it is! Great post.

Anonymous said...

A wonderful salad, perfect light meal for the summer!

Jennifer said...

Mmmm.... loving the colours (and egg!). Saying no to salads is like saying no to Bambi. How can you?? lol...

Alisa said...

It looks delicious! I need to make one like that right away

Lazaro Cooks! said...


Vibrant, lovely and flavorful. You photos are really striking. A+++ to you. Love palm sugar, one of my favorites.

Lots of wonderful comments on your blog. Glad to see your hard work rewarded.

Magdalena said...

Another great adventure with cucumbers. Thank you so much for this "series".
You know, I was not a great fun of raw cucumbers when I was younger; in Poland, we have great summer cucumbers, but often they are prepared in a very simple way and I did not like their refreshing flavor; I like raw cucumbers now, but they have to be mix with other ingredients or accompanied by a nice dressing, like yours.
Your salad reminds me one of my favorite Thai salads with green papaya....

Biren said...

Looks like a really refreshing and tasty salad. Looks gorgeous too!

mysimplefood said...

nice recipe. I have always wanted this recipe.

Anna said...

Lovely salad and the picture is amazing. Have a great week.

roxan said...

T this salad looks yummy! i think that grating the sugar is an AWESOME idea. ingenious, actually. I never would have thought of that.
I see you're super busy too! I can't wait until things settle down for me, but unfortunately they don't until october. but, i shouldn't complain since i have a few vacations mixed in that madness!~

Cook with Madin said...

This is lovely Tanantha and really refreshing. Palm sugar and of course dried shrimps are one of my favorite ingredients. Great photos too.

Mo said...

Dude, I've had a HUGE block of jaggery (Indian palm sugar) sitting in my pantry for AGES because I was using a tiny little microplane zester to shave it off. I definitely should have used a bigger grater. :P

I love this recipe, it looks so great. I also love your method. Tapping green beans like garlic especially stood out to me. :)

(PS: about the booze in the sorbet - I was actually afraid to post that because I wasn't sure if that was illegal or not :P)

Foodessa said... don't have to work hard to convince me to fall for this type of colorful salad. Then, you go add these gorgeous photos...and I'm at your table pronto ;o)

I've never had palm sugar...something I'll have to look into. Thanks.

Ciao for now,

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