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som tam with pickled blue crab (Isaan)


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A few weeks ago we ate at a restaurant called Cafe de Lao in Bangkok (prior to moving on to Luang Prabang in Laos). Excellent meal and one of the standout dishes was a som tam with what was called 'pickled blue swimming crab' (from a menu that had a whole page of different som tams!).

I am planning to try to recreate this dish this coming weekend. I have managed to source a frozen blue swimming crab from a local Thai deli. This appears uncooked (which I am sure it should be) - but what I do not know is how to go about 'pickling' it. Has anyone tried this or have any information on how to go about it?

Jon

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  • 3 months later...
A few weeks ago we ate at a restaurant called Cafe de Lao in Bangkok (prior to moving on to Luang Prabang in Laos). Excellent meal and one of the standout dishes was a som tam with what was called 'pickled blue swimming crab' (from a menu that had a whole page of different som tams!).

I am planning to try to recreate this dish this coming weekend. I have managed to source a frozen blue swimming crab from a local Thai deli. This appears uncooked (which I am sure it should be) - but what I do not know is how to go about 'pickling' it. Has anyone tried this or have any information on how to go about it?

Jon

Crabs in Tam som is great. If you cook this recipe though, you should call it : "Tam Mak Khung" which is the lao name for it. Tam Som is rather thai vocabulary and as soon as you use crabs, it becomes lao.

Now, the crabs are not only marinated, but fermented with salt just like Pa Dek. I am not sure you can dio this by yourself. Now there is a much more efficient way to have in your recipe this incomparable crab taste, it is called : Nam Phu (crabs sauce). You can find this ingredients in asian store (I bring mine directly from Vientiane's market).

It bring sweetness to you Tam Mak Khrung. then you can add your marinated crabs on or two small crabs for a plate. crabs need to be cut in small pieces and crushed along with the papaya.

Hope it'll help

Kha

Kha Tran - Paris - France

I love cooking, love eating. My very personal taste drives me towards personal interpretation of traditional dishes in Lao, vietnamese, Thai and French cuisine. I am looking for world wide confrontation of techniques, ingredients and recipes. All feedback are welcome.<br />

<a href='http://khas-kitchen.blogspot.com' target='_blank'>http://khas-kitchen.blogspot.com</a>

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som tam is not as good without salted fermented fiddler crabs! miam miam.... everytime i must insist the sellers to add them to my som tom as they always tried to omit this 'crucial' ingredient.

make it half green mango and half papaya, and some cherry tomatoes. all the best som tom i had in Thailand were pounded in a log using something that looked like a baseball bat lol.

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som tam is not as good without salted fermented fiddler crabs! miam miam....  everytime i must insist the sellers to add them to my som tom as they always tried to omit this 'crucial' ingredient. 

make it half green mango and half papaya, and some cherry tomatoes.  all the best som tom i had in Thailand were pounded in a log using something that looked like a baseball bat lol.

Is a fiddler crab the same as a blue swimming crab? Not sure. Anyway, my original post was mainly about pickling - as opposed to cooking (by heat). In the end I 'bottled out' (as we say in the UK) and cooked the crab pieces to avoid risking the health of my guests. Tasted great, but I still would prefer to include an unboiled (blue) crab. Could you describe how you go about salting/fermenting?

BTW I quite agree about mixing green mango and papaya - the mango in particular adds a distinct Indochinese flavour rather than pure Thai. But I remain to be convinced that cherry tomatoes are either authentic or necessary or desirable.

Jon

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