Bowl of Cucumber Salad
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Cucumber Salad Issan
Thailand - Issan
  -   Tam Taeng Kwaa
4 salad  
40 min  
This excellent salad is made similarly to the famous Green Papaya Salad, but contains no Papaya. It's normally made in a large clay mortar with a wooden pestle. If you don't have one you'll have to improvise (see Note-7).



Cucumbers (1)  
Long Beans
Grape Tomatoes
Thai Chili dry (2)
Dry Shrimp, small
Key Lime
Palm Sugar (3)
Hot Water
Lime Juice (4)
Fish Sauce (5)
Fish Paste (6)
Roasted Peanuts (opt)
--- Serve Over (opt)
Rice Noodles (7)
Prep   -   (30 min)
  1. Crush PALM SUGAR as fine as you can get it and soak in just enough hot water to wet it. Let it sit to soften.
  2. Crumble CHILIS and put in just enough warm water to soften them.
  3. Quarter CUCUMBERS lengthwise, and cut the sticks diagonally in lengths from 3/4 to 1 inch long.
  4. Cut LONG BEANS into 1-1/2 inch lengths.
  5. Cut GRAPE TOMATOES in half crosswise. If using larger Cherry Tomatoes, cut into quarters.
  6. Slice GARLIC thin crosswise.
  7. Cut KEY LIME in half lengthwise, then each half lengthwise into thirds. Cut the thirds in half crosswise (12 pieces).
  8. Squeeze LIME JUICE and mix with Fish Sauce and Fish Paste.
  9. IF Used: Crush PEANUTS coarse.
  10. IF Used: Soak RICE NOODLES in warm water for 20 minutes or 1 hour depending on size. Drain.
Run   -   (10 min)
  1. Drain Chilis. In a Clay Mortar (see Note-7) pound the Chilis, Garlic and Palm Sugar until you have a sludge with tiny flakes of Garlic and Chili.
  2. Stir in Lime Chunks and bruise them just enough to release juice. Stir in Shrimp and crush them lightly.
  3. Stir in Long Beans and pound them gently until bruised. They are fairly tough but don't hit them hard enough to break them apart or flatten them.
  4. Stir in Cucumbers and Lime Juice mix. Pound to just bruise the Cucumbers. Stir in Tomatoes and bruise very gently. Stir in Peanuts if used. Let sit for awhile to blend flavors.
  5. IF Used: Bring plenty of water to a boil. Stir in the Rice Noodles for just a few seconds if thin, not much longer if thicker. Pour into a strainer and refresh with cold water.
  6. Put some Rice Noodles in each of individual bowls. Spoon some salad over, with its share of the liquid. Serve cool but not chilled.
  1. Cucumbers:   If at all possible these should be narrow cucumbers that don't need to be peeled or seeded (Persian, Japanese, etc.). If all you have is standard green blimps, peel and seed them before weighing.
  2. Thai Chili Dried:   Caution:   Issan food tends to have plenty of chili heat. This number of very hot dried red Thai chilis makes this dish distinctly hot even by Southern California standards. If you haven't yet made your sacrifices to the Chili gods, adjust to suit. If you don't have dried Thai chilis, de Arbols are a good substitute. Fresh red Thai chilis could also be used, but dried are common in Issan. For details see our Chili Page.
  3. Palm Sugar:   About 2 teaspoons after softening. This flavorful sugar can be found in any market serving a Southeast Asian community, and in some Indian markets. If you don't have palm sugar, use an amber sugar like Turbinado.
  4. Lime Juice:   The pattern recipe calls for juice of Key Limes. If not available, it suggests mixing a little Meyer Lemon (sweet lemon) juice in with regular Lime Juice.
  5. Fish Sauce:   Any good Thai fish sauce will work. For details see our Fish Sauce page.
  6. Fish Paste:   [Mam Nem (Viet); Naam Pla Raa (Thai)]   This is a pungent paste-like fish sauce. Look for it under Mam Nem in tall 7 ounce bottles. It should contain no sugar, just fish, salt and water. For details see our Fish Sauce page.
  7. Method   Traditionally a large fired clay mortar (Kruk) with a wood pestle is used to make this and similar salads. If you don't have that, you'll have to improvise. When using this mortar, you do not strike the pestle straight up and down, but at an angle so it hits the top edge of the contents. You tumble the contents with a spoon to bring more material up to the strike zone.
  8. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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