Thai salads fall into four main methods of preparation. In Thai cuisine, these are called yam, tam, lap, and phla. A few additional dishes can also be regarded as being a salad.
Thai salads often do not have raw vegetables or fruit as their main ingredient but use minced meat, seafood or noodles instead. Similar to salads in the West, these dishes often have a souring agent, usually lime juice, and feature the addition of fresh herbs and other greens in their preparation. Thai salads are not served as entrées but normally eaten as one of the main dishes in a Thai buffet-style meal, together with rice (depending on the region this can be glutinous rice or non-glutinous rice) or the Thai rice noodle called khanom chin. Specialized khao tom kui (plain rice congee) restaurants also serve a wide variety of Thai salads of the yam type as side dishes. Many Thai salads, for instance, the famous som tam, are also eaten as a meal or snack on their own.
In Thai cuisine, it is normal to have salad-like dishes in the culinary repertoire. Salads can be made with a wide variety of ingredients as its main ingredient and nearly any type of protein, vegetable, fruit, herb, spice, and noodle, or combinations thereof is possible. The main ingredient can be raw, pickled, fermented, sun-dried, smoked, steamed, parboiled, boiled, grilled, baked, stir-fried or deep-fried, or combinations thereof. Besides the main ingredient, the basic recipe of yam will nearly always contain sliced fresh shallots or onions, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and fresh or dried chilies. When herbs are used, it is usually Chinese celery, sometimes in combination with other fresh herbs such as spearmint, coriander leaves, spring onions, and cilantro. Very often, sliced tomatoes are also added in, or finely slices fresh spices such as lemongrass, ginger, galangal, or khamin khao (lit. “white turmeric”).
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