Thai spicy grilled corn salad (Som Tum Khao Pod) is a light, tasty and healthy recipe that is easy to put together. The flavors are the same as the Thai green papaya salad, sweet, sour, and salty, all in one bite. A perfectly balanced flavor using fresh ingredients!
This delicious Thai grilled corn salad is a perfect recipe for corn season. For more delicious Thai salads, check out these tasty recipes you'll love too. Spicy Thai grilled eggplant salad with pork. Thai crispy egg salad Yam Khai Dao
This recipe is a comfort dish that brings me back with each bite of the bold flavors! The food there is typically simple and made with fresh ingredients but has bold spicy, sweet, salty, sour, and umami flavors. Each bite is a flavor explosion in your mouth!
What Is Som Tum Khao Pod
Tum in Thai means pounding, and there are many forms of spicy Thai salad using this pounding technique. Som Tum Khao Pod (ส้มตำข้าวโพด), literally means “Sour, pounding, corn” is a sweet corn salad that is mixed with long beans, tomatoes, shredded carrots, peanuts, and seasoned with fish sauce, fresh lime juice, and palm sugar. I grilled my corn for this recipe for an extra depth of flavors. The added dried shrimp gives the recipe umami flavors that make this salad addicting!
You can Tum many things using this technique. "Tum" or "Tam" means the pounding of ingredients, typically in a mortar and pestle. You can use a wide variety of fresh fruits like hard green mango, guava, green apples, fresh lotus stems, young banana blossoms, eggplants, and water mimosa. Sometimes you'll kanom jeen noodles (fermented vermicelli noodles), egg noodles, and even glass noodles used in many of these salads. You can create a simple version of normal som tum or get creative and come up with a random mixture of all sorts of ingredients to get tasty Northeast Thailand salads!
I grew up in Surin, an Isaan province in the Northeast of Thailand. in my biased opinion has the best flavors of any Thai region. (; We have some of the most popular dishes that have come out of Thailand and are enjoyed worldwide! Some examples of famous Thai food that you may have had are Som tam, a spicy salad made with green papaya, Laab, Isaan sausage, and Nam Jim Jeow. There's so much more.
Why This Recipe Works
- A perfect late summer recipe during corn season.
- The grilled corn adds a layer of flavors to this Thai corn salad.
- It’s a light and delicious recipe full of bold umami Tam flavors.
- It’s healthy with low calories. It has no added sugar.
- You can adapt the spice level as needed by adjusting the number of chilis used.
- You can eat the salad as a complete meal or with sticky rice, jasmine rice, Khanom jeen noodles, or eaten as a lettuce wrap using romaine lettuce leaves, cabbage, or napa cabbage.
Main ingredients for making Som Tum Kao pod
Some recipes used salted duck egg for the more classic version, but I prefer the dried shrimp better as the ingredients hold up better and add an instant umami flavor to this spicy corn salad. Duck eggs can be difficult to find and make. Using dried shrimp is an excellent choice for this recipe.
Grilled sweet corn. Fresh corn is best for this recipe. Grilling adds an extra layer of flavors, but you can boil or steam the corn, too, if grilling is not possible.
Cherry tomatoes. Use any tomatoes you have. Before adding them to the salad, slice them into 1-inch pieces. They add an extra tangy and sweet flavor to the salad.
Green beans. Traditionally long green beans are used in Thai cuisine. But any beans will work!
Sliced carrot. Use shredded carrots or slice thin with a slicer into small shredded pieces.
Peanuts. Use unsalted peanuts. Almonds and cashew are great substitutes.
Dried shrimp. They are pungent, but the umami flavors added to the salad are unmatched, and I highly recommend not skipping out on this ingredient. Check the kitchen note section for tips on these.
Garlic. Use raw fresh garlic rather than the paste.
Thai fresh chili pepper. Good substitutes are serrano, jalapeños, or whole dried chili. Chili flakes are great for added heat, but use them when finished with the salad rather than pounding it with garlic.
Palm Sugar. Dark or light brown sugar, monk fruit, coconut sugar, and granulated white sugar will work great for this recipe.
Lime Juice. Use fresh lemon juice as a substitute if lime is not available.
Fish Sauce. Highly recommend using three crab brands or a red boat brand for this recipe. It’s lighter and not as salty as the other fish sauce brands.
How To Make Thai spicy grilled corn salad
STEP ONE. Grill the corn. Lightly brush the corn with oil before grilling on high for 10 minutes or until the corn looks charred but not burnt. Let cool close to room temperature before cutting kernels.
STEP TWO. In a mortar and pestle, lightly pound garlic and chilis. See kitchen tips if you don’t have a mortar and pestle.
STEP THREE. Add the peanuts and lightly pound but do not crush the peanuts into paste-like form.
STEP FOUR. Add the green beans and dried shrimp and pound until the beans are lightly bruised, using a spoon to turn the pieces for an even pounding. Do not turn it into a paste. We want textures.
STEP FIVE. Remove the mixture in the mortar into a large bowl. Add tomatoes and carrots, sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice. Mix well.
STEP SIX. Cut the corn. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the grilled corn from the cob. Add the kernels into the salad bowl mixture. Stir well. Taste and adjust the seasoning with sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, sliced chilis, or dried chili flakes. Serve as a salad, side dish, or as a main meal. See kitchen notes on ideas on how to serve the salad.
Helpful Kitchen notes And Expert Tips
- Use this technique if you don’t have a mortar and pestle at home. You can separately make the tum sauce first in a small bowl by adding minced garlic chilis, palm sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice. You should have a salty, sour, and sweet chili sauce ready for your salad. Add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and stir well. You can use your fingers with gloves to massage the salad, too, to help bruise the ingredients and allow the sauce to marinate in with the vegetables.
- Another kitchen trick is to add all the ingredients into a large zip lock bag and use a heavy kitchen tool to lightly pound the mixture together. Once the salad looks well bruised and mixed in, remove it from the bag and place it on a serving platter.
- Serve the salad as a lettuce wrap! Use large leafy lettuce, cabbage, or napa cabbage, scoop the corn salad into the leaves and serve!
- Soak the dried shrimp in water for 5 minutes before use to hydrate and soften the shrimp. It also helps remove some of the salted shrimp's salty taste and fishy smell.
- Toast the peanuts in a pan before using them for an extra layer of toasted nutty flavors.
Helpful Kitchen Tools for this Recipe
Can I use frozen corn for Thai spicy grilled corn salad?
Yes, you can! Steam or boil your corn until done and use it for Tum Khao Pod Salad. The flavors will be slightly different without the grilling but adjust the seasoning with more fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar as needed.
Can I broil or boil my sweet corn?
Absolutely. Broiling will give the smoky charred flavors. Boiling the corn gives it a sweeter taste, so adjust the seasoning as needed once mixing all the ingredients.
Do I need a mortar and pestle to make Som Tum Khao Pod?
No, you don’t need a mortar and pestle to make this salad. See the section on helpful Kitchen tips for an easy method of making this salad without a mortar. However, clay mortar and pestle make Thai Tum salads extremely helpful. Especially if you are a huge fan of Thai salads and want to make them regularly.
More Thai Recipes You’ll Love!
- Thai crispy egg salad Yam Khai Dao
- Thai green papaya salad
- Spicy Thai grilled eggplant salad with pork
- Thai morning glory stir-fried recipe
- Thai cucumber salads for satay
- Thai glass noodles with shrimp
- Thai green Mango salad with cashew
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