Spicy Thai salad to ease your food guilt

Spicy Thai salad to ease your food guilt
Spicy Thai salad.
PHOTO: The New Paper

Are you struggling with post-festivity guilt?

Do you have disturbing flashbacks of feasting on calorie-laden snacks and full-on festive dishes?

Well, life is too short for regrets or trying to convince yourself to eat bland food as atonement.

Thai salads, such as som tam goong (green papaya salad with prawns), can excite your taste buds and possibly ease your food guilt.

Som tam is usually made using a Thai clay mortar and wooden pestle.

If you do not have them, use your own mortar and pestle to crush the ingredients before mixing them in a bowl.

You can use a vegetable shredder for shredding the green papaya, but I find that the green papaya loses some of its crunchiness when it is shredded too finely.

I prefer the traditional method of holding the papaya in one hand and a knife in the other.

You make cuts on the papaya lengthwise before slicing to get the thin strips.

It is tedious work, but it can be therapeutic for working off any self-loathing you may have from all that festive overeating.

You can add long beans into the som tam, or serve it on the side.

The long beans and cabbage are meant to quell the spiciness if you cannot take too much heat.

I added chilli padi midway through because I wanted just enough spiciness for a kick.

If you are a chilli fiend, you can crush the chilli padi at the start with the garlic clove.

APhoto: The New Paper
BPhoto: The New Paper
CPhoto: The New Paper
DPhoto: The New Paper


  • 100g raw peanuts (shelled)
  • 350ml water
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 10 small unshelled prawns (150g)
  • 1 medium-size green papaya (1kg)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1½ tbsp palm sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 10g toasted dried shrimp
  • 2 red chilli padi
  • 100g baby tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 lime, deseeded and sectioned
  • 1½ tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 stalks of long beans (100g), cut into 5cm lengths
  • 100g raw cabbage


  1. Heat wok and fry the peanuts over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. A
  2. Remove peanuts from wok. Allow to cool and remove the skins. Set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, bring 350ml of water to a boil. Add the salt. Place the prawns in the boiling water for two minutes. B
  4. Remove prawns from water. Discard the water. Allow the prawns to cool before deshelling and deveining them. Set aside.
  5. Peel the skin off the green papaya. Shred the papaya using a vegetable shredder or knife. When using a knife, hold the papaya firmly in one hand. Use the knife in a "chopping" motion to make multiple cuts of about 2cm deep, lengthwise. Then slice lengthwise to get strips that are around 5cm to 7cm in length. Repeat until you get to the papaya core, which can be discarded. Set aside.
  6. Place the garlic clove in the mortar. Use the pestle to crush it. Add the palm sugar, lime juice and dried shrimp. C
  7. Add the chilli padi. Use a spoon to mix the ingredients as you lightly crush them with the pestle.
  8. Add the shredded green papaya, baby tomatoes and the cut lime. Lightly crush the baby tomatoes and lime to release the juices. Add the fish sauce and mix. D
  9. Add the peanuts and prawns. Gently toss the mixture.
  10. Serve the salad on a plate, with the long beans and cabbage on the side.


This article was first published on February 16, 2017.
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