Here’s a further argument for the fact that once you’ve learned to make one Thai salad, yam (ยำ), you know how to make many. I have said this before in my post on Scallop-Orange-Cucumber Salad, but I’ll recap it here: The most basic yam dressing consists of some lime juice, some fish sauce, and some sugar in a few cases. Fresh or dried chilies provide heat which is optional. The only thing to watch out for is when you deal with ingredients that are naturally sweet, sour, or salty in which case you need to be mindful of how much fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar you need.
There are more elaborate, complex salads. But this represents the most basic.
Can’t afford to make the scallop yam mentioned above? Join the club. There are a lot of ingredients that are much less expensive and just as yam-worthy. You’ve seen a humble yam of canned sardine in tomato sauce before, and now you’re looking at a yam of canned tuna with young ginger and lemongrass which I adore (here’s the recipe). I used to live on these.
The Thai people love their yam. Fast food companies have certainly picked up on this. Both McDonald’s and KFC, arguably two of the most successful foreign franchises in the kingdom, have added yam items to their menus, serving them with rice (the way the locals eat their meat salads). And it’s not like these menu items are extremely creative; the Thai people already possess a natural inclination to turn anything edible into a yam.
And if you have followed this blog for a while and made yams with me along the way, you, too, know how to turn anything into a yam. In fact, as I’m writing this post, an email from a reader came in asking whether I’ve ever made som tam (which is a yam) with spaghetti squash. The answer is, I have not (but I’m intrigued by the idea). However, I have made som tam with carrots and radishes and loved them both.
What have you yammed lately?