Tam Sua – Mixed Hardcore Salad (only for the brave!!) :D

Tam Sua – Mixed Hardcore Salad (only for the brave!!) :D
Tam Sua – Mixed Hardcore Salad (only for the brave!!) 😀
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Tam Sua

Hardcore Mixed Salad (only for the brave!!)

Tam Sua is a tough variation of the well known Som Tam even though the word Tam Sua practically means ‘salad anything’. The dish looks pretty much like the photo above every time I order it. So what’s inside? Here’s my version of Tam Sua. You’ll find that it’s really similar to a Som Tam… for the brave!

Key Ingredients:

  • A handful of grated green papaya
  • Some small pieces of long green beans
  • 1 Poo Kem, black salted rice field crab. Break into small pieces. Make sure you keep the legs for decoration 🙂
  • 1 spoon of Pla Raa, a seriously fermented fish
  • Lots of bird-eye chili, the hot ones
  • Few small cherry tomatoes
  • Some Kanom Jeen, rice noodle
  • Nam Pla (fish sauce), Lime & Garlic


Any vegetables that you like, such as cabbage or bean sprouts. In this sample we have thinly sliced eggplants. Crispy pork skin also goes well with the dish. Don’t forget the right mortar. You’ll need a mortar for all Som Tam dishes, otherwise it feels less authentic. We don’t use a stone mortar to make Som Tam though, because stone is too heavy. It smashes the ingredients rather than crushing and mixing them nicely. Use a clay Laos Style mortar and pestle.


  • Put garlic and chili in the mortar. Crush them slightly then put in Nam Pla (fish sauce), Pla Ra (fermented fish) and Lime Juice. Don’t throw away the lime skin, throw it in the mortar (I’m serious). How much you put each of the ingredient in is up to your taste.
  • Mix in the papaya and Poo Kem (crab). Crush them a little – be gentle with the papaya. You may put Poo Kem in first if you’d like. Once again, don’t over crush it.
  • Add rice noodle. Mix the salad together.
  • If you choose to have the crispy pork skin, add them the last or put it on top. Voila!

Useful Tips:

If all this is too complicated – you’ll be happy to know that you can always order this dish from any local places that has the usual Som Tam, be it E-Sarn restaurants or Som Tam pushcarts. The upmarket restaurants that feature classic Som Tam in their menu won’t have it though, because this is really too local.

Farang’s Opinion (me):

I tried but it’s really too ethnic (to be polite). It smells like fermented fish (to be polite) and tastes like fermented fish (to be polite).

Written by

Born in France a long long time ago, I started to travel the world in my 20s and never stopped until I finally settled in Thailand in 1994. Then for the past 22 years, my passion for photography and my natural curiosity has taken me to every corner of Thailand, jumping frequently between Bangkok and Phuket and basically everywhere I could go. I now manage 30 online travel guides in Asia and beyond, including Phuket.com, Bangkok.com and Bali-Indonesia.com