Pickles and Tea Adventures in Asian American Cooking

Green Apple Som Tam

Green apple som tam is probably not the correct translation for this very popular Thai dish, a.k.a. green papaya salad. But, I don’t speak Thai so … If you know what it should be, do holler!  

Nonetheless, this green apple Thai salad serves as a great introduction to the recipes in my new cookbook to be released on March 28, 2017.

Thanks to photographer Sara and Tuttle Publishing for a gorgeous cover!

Thanks to photographer Sarah Culver and Tuttle Publishing for a gorgeous cover!

My new cookbook now has a cover, and it’s available for pre-order on Amazon.com! Farm to Table Asian Secrets–Vegan and Vegetarian Full-Flavored Recipes for Every Season is a vegetable-focused cookbook that offers tips on harnassing Asian ingredients and cooking techniques to cook your favorite local and in-season vegetables–trip to the Asian market not required! Note that I say it’s a “vegetable-focused cookbook” i.e. it’s meant for anyone and everyone who wants to cook delicious vegetable dishes, omnivores and carnivores alike!

In addition to this green apple salad, I’ve come up with recipes the likes of Thai Basil Zucchini, Kung Pao Potatoes, Korean-Style Buffalo Broccoli and much much more!

I’ll be spotlighting tips and recipes from the book over the next few months, so stay tuned!



Photo by Sarah Culver

Green Apple Salad with Tangy Thai Dressing
Serves 4
Based on the popular Thai papaya salad (som tum), this refreshing salad has a delightful balance of sweet, salty, and sour. Like it sweeter? Add more sugar. Not tart enough? A few more squirts of lime juice will do it. Feel free to tweak the recipe to your liking. It can be hard to find fresh, flavorful tomatoes when apples are in season, leave them out if you prefer.
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Prep Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
  1. 2 tart, firm green apples, like Granny Smith
  2. Dressing
  3. 1 plump clove garlic
  4. 2 Thai or Serrano chilies (deseed them if you don’t like it too spicy)
  5. 4 teaspoons coconut palm sugar or 3 teaspoons light brown sugar
  6. 6 cherry tomatoes
  7. 4 teaspoons fish sauce or soy sauce
  8. 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 large lime)
  9. 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts
  10. Iceberg or butter lettuce for serving (optional)
  1. Shred the apples with a julienne peeler or cut them into matchsticks by hand (peel them if you prefer). You will get about 2 cups. Soak in a bowl of salted water while you prepare the dressing.
  2. To make the Dressing, pound the garlic, chilies, and sugar in a mortar until they form a paste. Add 1 tablespoon peanuts and pound unto tiny pieces. Then add the cherry tomatoes and pound a few times just to bruise the tomatoes and release some juices. Stir in the soy sauce and lime juice. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  3. Drain the apple and place in a non-terry dish cloth. Wring gently to remove excess water.
  4. If your mortar is big enough, add the apple. If not, transfer the dressing to a serving bowl. Add the apple and half the peanuts and toss well to mix. Sprinkle with the remaining peanuts and serve immediately with iceberg lettuce to scoop up the salad if desired.
  1. If you prefer, you can use a sweeter apple like Fuji or Pink Lady. Just be sure it’s a firm apple or it’ll turn mushy when you shred it.
  2. If you’re even more adventurous, semi-ripe mangoes and pineapple would taste great in this salad, as well as rutabaga, jicama, or kohlrabi.
Pickles and Tea http://smithsonianapa.org/


  • Just FYI, the meanings of “som tam” wouldn’t conflict with your very appealing recipe above, although we most associate the dish with green papaya. “Som” means sour (or sometimes citrus/lime), and “tam” implies “bruised in a mortar in pestle”. Last week I visited my local Cambodian grocer, and they had marinated sour crab apples. They also used a touch of fish sauce–they were surprisingly sweet, sour, and delicious!

  • Filed Under

    November 3, 2016
    Cooking method    No cook    
    Course-type    Salads    Sides    
    Culture    Thai    
    Main ingredient    Fruit    
    • Posted By

      Born in Indonesia and raised in Singapore, Pat Tanumihardja writes about food, travel, and lifestyle through a multicultural lens. Pat especially enjoys covering topics that converge on food, history and culture and has been published in numerous international, national and regional publications. Her cookbook, The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook—Home Cooking from Asian American Kitchens is a treasury of family recipes and stories spanning over a dozen Asian cultures.

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