Corn Som Tam is one of Bangkokians' favorite variations of the quintessential green papaya salad (Som Tam). Poached shrimp is added to this sweet, sour, and spicy salad to turn it into a complete meal.
Note: Do not be tempted to use frozen corn kernels. They are too mushy to use in this recipe. Use raw corn kernels, if you like the flavor and texture of raw corn. Or, do as the recipe instructs: cook the corn only lightly.
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- 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 quarts water
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 4 ears of corn, in their husks
- 2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 3/4 cup plain roasted peanuts
- 2 bird's eye chilies or 1 Serrano chili
- 1/4 cup dried shrimp (optional)
- 2 medium tomatoes (about 3/4 pound), cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/4 pound green beans, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup packed grated carrots
- 2 limes
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (or more to taste)
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce (or more to taste)
Put the water and the salt in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so that water is steaming but no longer boiling. (If you have a thermometer, make sure the water registers somewhere between 160˚ and 180˚F). Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, just until the flesh turns opaque, about 1 minute. Transfer to a large plate and set aside
Microwave corn on high heat for 4 minutes. Remove husks, then slice the kernels off the cobs with a sharp, thin-bladed knife. Place the corn kernels in a large mixing bowl.
Place the garlic, peanuts, chili(es), and dried shrimp (if using) in a heavy-duty zipper-lock bag. Squeeze air out and seal the bag, then crush everything with a hard object, such as a sturdy mason jar, a meat pounder, or a rolling pin. The peanuts and chili(es) should be finely crushed and the dried shrimp flattened and flaky.
Add tomatoes and green beans to the peanut bag; seal the bag. With your hands, lightly squeeze the contents of the bag until the tomatoes are somewhat bruised (and release some juice) and the green beans a bit softened. Add the contents of the bag to the corn kernels in the mixing bowl along with the carrots and poached shrimp.
Zest one lime and add the zest to the mixing bowl. Juice the zested lime and add the juice to the mixing bowl as well.
Add the sugar and fish sauce to the mixing bowl. Toss the salad and adjust the taste to your liking with additional lime juice, fish sauce, or sugar. Serve immediately or cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and keep it refrigerated for no more than one hour before serving.