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The Thai word “Yum” (sometimes spelt Yam) means salad so if you see a dish beginning with “Yum” it is likely to be a Thai salad. However, if you are thinking of something similar to Western salads, then think again. The category of Thai salads is so much more interesting and diverse and can be dangerously spicy!
In Thailand, you can expect salads to be out of the ordinary. The different preparation methods and extensive use of ingredients set them apart from the common salads. Some are very simply and need very little preparation. Others are a little more intensive to prepare. If you like spicy, you are in for a treat, but most can also be made none spicy.
As part of our Ultimate Guide To Thai Food, in this article we are digging deeper into the concept of Thai Salads. If you are in Bangkok, also check out our food tours to discover more.
Whether you are an occasional salad eater or a certified aficionado, these Thai salads are the ones you should not miss.
From its name itself, this spicy glass noodle salad is “yummy.” It is made of vermicelli or glass noodles, often mixed with seafood, such as shrimp, but it can also be meat, chicken, or tofu. It is served with peanuts and lime chilli dressing. For some reasons, yum woonsen goong is a perfect dish during summer and a great pick-me-up food.
Similar Yum Woonsen, but using Thailand’s most famous instant noodle. As you may be aware, instant noodles come with a separate flavour sachet and the most popular of all is Tom Yum. Cook the noodles and then mix in the flavouring, onions, tomatoes, cooked shrimps, cooked, minced pork coriander. Finally flavour to your desired taste with lime, sugar, chilli. Thai comfort food at its best!
Som tum is a popular salad dish that originates from the northeast of Thailand. It was traditionally spicy, but it has evolved to several variations that incorporate sweet, salty, and sour flavours. Som Tum Thai is the most globally recognised version of and is made of green papaya with dried shrimps prawns, mixed with green beans, carrots, chilli, garlic, peanuts, and lime dressing. However, there are so many variations where additional ingredients are added (e.g. fermented fish, crab, pickled eggs…) or where the papaya is substituted with another ingredient such as cucumber, corn….
Another variation of Som Tum that we have decided to include is Som Tum Polomai. While in the Western world “fruit salad” is generally eaten as a dessert, this is a savoury and spicy salad that can be eaten with anything! This Thai salad is an amazing mix of sweet and savoury flavours and is made of mixed chunks of tropic fruits, such as apple, guava, rose apple, pineapple, and dragonfruit, with chillies, fish sauce, and lime dressing.
Another fruit based salad but one of the tastiest and most refreshing salads you can find. Even if you ask for a non-spicy version one it tastes good! Made of chunks of pomelo fruit it often is mixed with fresh shrimps (but can subsitute grilled chicken), fried shallots and lemongrass. Flavoured with chillies, lime and palm sugar and you get the perfect salad.
Wing beans are highly nutritious and delicious vegetables, so it’s no wonder you can make a tasty salad out of it. Yum tua plu is made of wing beans cooked in coconut milk with chilli paste, toasted coconut, tamarind, cashew nuts, and palm sugar. Shrimps and chicken are often added, with sliced hardboiled eggs on the side.
You might think that lemongrass is for its aromatic extract and flavours only, but you can make a delicious salad with it. It has a crunchy texture and citrusy taste. It features toasted cashew nuts, shrimps, ground pork, and vibrant dressing.
Banana blossom can be used in a lot of dishes or as an accompaniment but we love it as a salad. After lightly toasting the banana blossom you mix it with coconut milk, lime, palm sugar, chilli.
Is this the Thai equivalent to a Salad Nicoise? Well the only similarity is you can use canned fish! “Pla Krapong” literally means canned fish, and usually refers to sardines or mackeral canned in a tomato sauce. Empty the tin and mix with shallots, lemongrass, chillies, fish sauce, lime juice….. Or flavour to your taste.
This is a popular seafood dish in Thailand that you can find both in side-type restaurants and high-end restaurants. Yum ruam mit talay is a made of mixed seafood, such as squid and prawns. It has tomato, sliced cucumber, white cabbage, jelly mushroom, Thai celery, spring onion, coriander root, and lime chilli dressing.
Thai salads are a must-try, especially for those who are striving to eat healthily. The unique mixtures of flavours make the food delicious. If you happen to visit Thailand, remember these salads, and don’t leave without trying them out.
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