This Thai vegan apple and corn som tum salad is an alternative to the usual green papaya based som tum we all know and love. Variations in Thailand aren’t uncommon, especially with regards to fruit. I’ve enjoyed both corn and fruit adaptations of this ubiquitous Thai salad in past, so decided to combine them here. Lo and behold, it works.
Som tum is a remarkably customisable salad. Cabbage, carrot, courgette, radish, pineapple, yam bean (jicama), daikon and melon are just a handful of other ingredients you can use to make a bright and refreshing som tum. Keep in mind the sugar content of the ingredients you use and adjust the dressing to suit. For instance apples and corn are relatively sweet, so I use less sugar and more salty and sour components in this recipe.
It’s important to note my emphasis on what type of sauce to use; if you have vegan fish sauce, be sure to read the ingredients to see if the bottle contains any additional sweeteners. Fish sauce also does not taste like seaweed in any way, so avoid that ingredient also. If it contains either of these elements or you aren’t sure of the ingredients, use the soy and seasoning sauce alternative. Check out my vegan alternatives to fish sauce to read what to look for in a good vegan fish sauce. Effectively you want only pungency and salt.
Apple and Corn Som Tum Salad
Variations on the theme of papaya salad are relatively common in Thailand. This one utilises sweetcorn and apples in place of the usual green papaya. Be sure to a use a crispy, juicy apple with some sweetness (nothing as tart as a cooking apple and nothing too cotton-y). Serve with sticky rice and/or mounds of fresh vegetables (cabbage, red morning glory, and long bean are most common). This is also good with coconut rice.
- 1 ear sweet corn
- pinch of salt
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1-3 Thai bird’s eye chilies
- 1 tablespoon soft palm sugar
- ¼ cup 2 inch pieces long bean (or green beans)
- 2 tablespoons roasted peanut
- 5 small cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tablespoons vegan fish sauce (NOT one with any sweetening agents) OR 1 tablespoon thin soy sauce + 1 tablespoon seasoning sauce
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice + some rind
- ½ cup julienned carrot
- ½ cup apple chunks
- Boil the corn in a large pot of water for 5-6 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely. Once the corn has cooled, lay it on its side and cut strips of kernels off of the cob, endeavouring to keep the kernels together in large-ish pieces.
- Use a mortar and pestle to pound the pinch of salt with the garlic and chilies into a moderate paste. Add the palm sugar and continue to pound until there are no chunks of sugar and it is mostly dissolved.
- Add the long beans and the peanuts and pound minimally just to crush the beans. Add the tomatoes, fish or soy sauce, lime juice and rind, and gently pound in order to release some of the juices from the crushed tomato pieces.
- Add the corn, julienned carrot, and apple chunks and use a spoon to toss well with the juice.
- Serve with Thai sticky rice and plenty of fresh, crunchy vegetables.
- Author: Kip Dorrell
- Serves 2
- Cuisine: Thai