I LOVE LOVE LOVE a spicy sour salad!
I make my ‘sort-of’ som tam several times a week, substituting courgette for green papaya when I can’t get it.
And today I just started playing around (playing around with food and trying out new ideas is one of my very favourite things to do).
NOTE: THIS RECIPE ISN’T ONE WITH LISTED OUT INGREDIENTS ETC AS IT’S JUST WRITTEN AS I DID IT. HOWEVER, I HAVE GONE BACK AND ITALICISED THE INGREDIENTS SO HOPEFULLY THAT’S A LITTLE BIT HELPFUL!
So instead of my usual chicken cooked on the griddle, I tried poaching it in coconut milk - well, actually the watery liquid from the tin of coconut milk plus additional water.
I simmered the quartered chicken breast in the coconut/water for I think ten minutes as wanted to make sure it was thoroughly cooked and then I drained it and when slightly cooled, shredded the chicken.
Being in a playing-with-food mood, I then cooked some rice (using my absolutely foolproof method of course) in water but also added the solid cream from the tin of coconut milk.
So now I have coconut rice and coconut chicken all ready - and that lovely rich soft coconut flavour to add to my favourite spicy sour salad flavours.
(Nope, neither poaching chicken nor coconut rice cooking look that great, but I thought I’d add the photos so that you can see that it doesn’t look appetising at this stage!).
And now for the salad.
Make a quick and easy sugar syrup for the dressing by putting one tablespoon of demerara sugar in a small pan with three or four tablespoons of water and bring to the boil. Stir to ensure all the sugar has dissolved and then removed from the heat to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
I’ve got a green papaya today but you can always use courgette in its place if you can’t find green papaya (or as I do when I’m too lazy to make a trip to the Thai supermarket).
Peel the papaya/courgette and slice with a julienne peeler.
I’ve also got a few green beans, spring onions and cherry tomatoes, so just slice these too so it’s all ready.
And I’ve a small garlic clove and one red birds eye chilli - but use more or less garlic and chilli to your own taste. Today I want the flavours softer than I sometimes do and for the one chilli to balance the soft coconut rather than overpowering it.
Using a pestle and mortar squash first the chilli and garlic into small pieces - not a total mush, but nice and small as we’re eating it raw.
Then add the green beans, spring onion and tomato and squash it all together again.
Finally add the green papaya plus a handful each of fresh coriander and mint leaves, and … yup … give it all another pounding!
Tip in the cooled sugar syrup, the juice of one juicy lime and a tablespoon of fish sauce.
Stir, mix, combine, scrunch with your (clean!) hands - whatever way you like to mix the flavours - and then taste and see if it needs any more lime or fish sauce.
Add the cooled coconut chicken and coconut rice and mix again.
This is sooooooo delicious!
I love combination of the rich soft coconut rice and chicken, with the sour spicy dressing and the fresh herbs.
In fact, I’m making this for dinner again today ….