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Scraping a living.

Scraping a living. This woman spends a morning on the beach looking for small crabs. She would scrape the sand and quickly grab these fast creatures. These crabs are used in a variety of Thai dishes.

They are fermented and then, after being pounded in the mortar, added to Som-Tam (spicy green papaya salad) and other dishes. The mushed up crabs are eaten complete, with shells and feet.

Green Papaya Salad, or Som Tam, is a very common spicy dish eaten throughout Thailand. It originates in Laos/Issan, but now the whole country enjoys it. This dish is easily made vegetarian by omitting the dried shrimp and crab, and substituting salt for the fish sauce.


*- First prepare the green unripe papaya by peeling the dark green skin. Then, hold the papaya in your hand, and smack the fruit lengthwise with a good sized knife. You want to create 1/2″ or so deep cuts into the fruit. Do this over and over until you have created a good amount of cuts. Then, cut the papaya lengthwise to produce long strips. You can also buy tools which can create long shreds, or even use a cheese grater (the big holes). Thai people use the big knife method though!

*- In a ceramic mortar & pestle, add the whole garlic cloves and chilies. Pound with the pestle a few times to mash, then add the long beans or green beans. Pound a few more times, and add a pinch of papaya. This helps mix the garlic & chilies. Pound some more.

*- Add the palm sugar, add fermented crab or fermented fish paste (plaa-raa), fish sauce (naam plaa) and pound more. Make sure everything is well mixed.

*- Add the tomato, chopped into large pieces. Pound more, but not as hard.

*- Add the lime juice, dried shrimp and the rest of the papaya. Pound about 10-15 times while mixing with a spoon. You want to evenly coat the papaya with the juices while pounding the flavor into the papaya, but don’t pound so hard that the papaya disintegrates.

*- Add the peanuts, mix and serve.

I have never seen anybody making less then a 3-4 lb of this salad. Everybody makes their own version! But most are very hot. I can only tolerate relatively mild version of this salad.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on February 18, 2013
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by tor tom
    • Camera: Panasonic DMC-ZS5
    • Taken on 2011/04/27 15:49:23
    • Exposure: 0.001s (1/1000)
    • Focal Length: 4.10mm
    • F/Stop: f/6.300
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash