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lao cucumber salad

Spicy Lao Cucumber Salad (Tum Tang)

  • Author: Suwanee
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 3 1x
  • Diet: Low Calorie


Spicy Lao cucumber salad (Tum Tang) is a salty, savory, sweet, tangy dish that is easy to put together for a quick healthy, tasty meal. The salad has extra flavors and crunchy textures that will delight your tastebuds! It's a perfect side dish or served as a main meal!


  • 3 cups sliced cucumbers
  • 1/3 cup green beans, slice into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, whole
  • 1-10 Thai chilis, as preferred for spice level
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce, 3 Crabs, or Red Boat brand for best flavors
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind
  • 1 tablespoon Plara. Use the Pantai brand (from the Asian market) or this brand.
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dried shrimp


  1. Use a sharp knife, then cut cucumbers into long thin julienne slivers. *See the section above on how to cut the cucumbers for the salad.
  2. Lightly pound the garlic and chilis in a large mortar and pestle. Don’t make a paste.
  3. Add the sauces: fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, tamarind, and Pla Ra sauce. Mix the sauces well until the sugar is mostly dissolved.
  4. Add the sliced tomatoes and green beans. Firmly pound together, and avoid splashing the sauce too much.
  5. Add the cucumber and dried shrimp, then pound for a minute or so until the salads look bruised but not too crushed. The cucumber juices will marinate beautifully with the sauces at this point.
  6. Add the crushed peanuts (optional). Let the salad sit to marinade for 2-3 minutes while you prepare a plate with garnish to serve in. 
  7. Serve with sticky rice, vermicelli rice noodles, or jasmine rice, or serve as a stand-alone salad. The rice and noodles will help absorb some of the spicinesses of the salad.


  • Use pickling, English, or Persian cucumbers for this salad. Japanese cucumbers are an excellent option, too, if you can find some. The waxy American cucumbers are too rubbery and don’t hold flavors.
  • For extra crispy cucumbers, soak the clean cucumber in an ice bath, in a bowl, for 15-20 minutes. The ice will “wakens” and crisp up the cucumbers beautifully, especially if your cucumbers are a bit older. Make sure to wipe dry with a paper towel before cutting into your crisp cucumber.
  • Make the sauce separately if you do not have a mortar and pestle. Use a large bowl, then mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Use your fingers to massage all the ingredients together until the vegetables are lightly bruised. Adjust the flavors as needed. 
  • If your salad is too salty, add more sugar. If too sour, add more fish sauce and sugar. If too sweet, add fish sauce. Keep playing with the sauces until you’re happy with the flavors. 
  • Add 1-2 small slices of squeezed lime rind into the salad for the extra layer of herbaceous taste. Remove the rind before serving. In Thailand, the locals typically leave them on the plate but do not eat them. 
  • For added flavor and color, shredded carrots, Thai round eggplants, nuts, and or tiny raw shrimp. 
  • For garnishing options, try these. The traditional way to serve Som Tam is with a platter full of garnishing veggies like sliced cabbage, water spinach, Thai or Italian basil, pork rind, sliced raw Thai eggplants, Thai basil, and sticky rice or cooked vermicelli noodles. Use slice cabbage, leafy crispy lettuce, and Napa cabbage as a wrap to eat the salad.
  • Once you've mastered a couple of Som Tum recipes, the next time, try mixing and using different fruit and vegetables and play around with them. It will open up a world of extra tasty salads to you in ways you never knew existed! (:

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  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: salad
  • Cuisine: Thai