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Vegetarian pounded corn & cucumber salad

Green papaya salad, or som tum, is Thailand’s most famous salad, but it’s just one of many types of tum or pounded salads. 



  • 1 large 8-inch (20 cm ) ear of corn (about 8 ounces/225 g kernels, thawed if frozen )
  • 2 cloves (10 g ) garlic
  • 1 to 2 Thai chilies, to taste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (18 g ) finely chopped palm sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup (35 g ) unsalted roasted peanuts, divided
  • 1 medium (125 g ) tomato, cut in bite-sized wedges
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons (37 ml ) lime juice, rinds reserved
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml ) soy sauce
  • 1 heaping cup (150 g ) julienned cucumber
  • 1 cooked salted duck egg, cut into wedges (optional)


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add the corn and cook for six to seven minutes. Allow it to cool enough to handle, then slice off the kernels with a knife, keeping them in large pieces as much as possible.
  2. If using a motor and pestle: In a large salad mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and chilies into a fine paste. Add the palm sugar and pound until it’s dissolved into a thick paste.
  3. Add about half of the peanuts and pound a few times to crush them a bit. Then add the tomatoes and crush gently to release some of their juices.
    Add the lime juice and soy sauce, throwing in the rind of the juiced limes as well, if you wish. Use a large spoon to stir until it’s all well mixed and the sugar has completely dissolved into the dressing. At this point, if you are using a small mortar and pestle, transfer the salad to a mixing bowl. Otherwise, finish mixing in the mortar.
  4. Add the corn and cucumber and toss gently to mix, then transfer to a serving plate. Top with the remaining roasted peanuts, and serve with wedges of salted duck eggs, if desired.
  5. If you don't have a mortar and pestle: Make the dressing by adding the palm sugar to a small bowl. Add the lime juice and soy sauce, stirring to mostly dissolve the sugar. Don’t worry about a few stubborn chunks; they’ll have dissolved by the time you need the dressing. Finely grate the garlic and mince the chilies and stir them into the dressing.
    Chop the peanuts coarsely and add half of them to a large mixing bowl, then add the tomatoes and crush them gently with a wooden spoon to release some of their juices. Stir in the corn and cucumber.
  6. If the dressing still has some undissolved sugar, use a spoon to push down on any remaining chunks and they should crush pretty easily.
  7. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss everything together.
    Plate, top with the remaining roasted peanuts, and serve with wedges of salted duck eggs if desired. Enjoy! 

Excerpted from Sabai by Pailin Chongchitnant. Copyright © 2023 Pailin Chongchitnant. Photographs by Janis Nicolay. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

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