Sardine som tam

Sardine Som Tam salad

This Thai-style salad is full of flavour and really easy to put together. Deep-frying makes tinned sardines really crisp, so you can easily crumble them over the top.

Prep: 15 min
Cook: 10 min
Serves: 4


2 large carrots, trimmed and peeled
1 green papaya, peeled
15cm-long cucumber
1 red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced from root to tip
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
1 x 120g tin sardines in olive oil
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 handful fresh mint leaves
1 handful fresh coriander leaves

For the dressing:
4-6 small garlic cloves, peeled
2 small red chillies, or more if you like it hot
1 tbsp palm sugar, or brown sugar
Juice of 1 lime
6 tbsp fish sauce



Thinly slice the carrots, papaya and cucumber, then cut into long, thin matchsticks (if you are lucky enough to have the Thai tool specifically designed for this task, use that instead). Put the strips in a large bowl and add the sliced red onion.

Drain the can of sardines, deep-fry the fish in hot vegetable oil for five minutes, until crisp, then lift out and drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper.

For the dressing, bruise the garlic, chillies and sugar in a mortar, add the lime juice and fish sauce, then pound to break everything down into a paste. It should be hot, sweet and salty, so adjust to taste as necessary.

Pour the dressing over the shredded vegetables and toss to coat. Add the tomato quarters, mint and coriander, and toss again. Crush the sardines and mix half of them into the salad. Transfer to a platter and serve with the remaining crisp crushed fish scattered over the top.

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