Unlike recipes for Western salads, those for Thai salads don’t separate dressing ingredients from the mainingredients.Yetthereisalsoastriking similarity between the two worlds: namely, flavor. No matter where you are, acidic, salty and sweet flavors will predominate in any salad, be it an exotic yum som o (pomelo) or a Waldorf salad.

There are several kinds of Thai salads, depending on the method of assembly or cooking. Som tum usually features shredded green papaya, which offers valuable sap that is reabsorbed as it is pounded in the pestle and mortar. This allows the avors to “mellow out” during assembly.


Larb is a warm, cooked salad featuring some kind of protein, while plah features ingredients that are raw or cooked very little. However, the most well-known of Thai salad categories is yum, which, unlike som tum, is not usually assembled with a pestle and mortar.

There are two types of Western salad dressings: a suspension, which is basically a vinaigrette, and an emulsion, which is egg-based and creamy, like mayonnaise. Thai salad dressings also come in two variations – clear, or “sai”, and thick, or “niew” – but, unlike a vinaigrette or mayonnaise, Thai dressings do not have any oil, so they are basically salsas.