There are a number of variations of salad in Thailand with ingredients and preparation varying greatly depending on the individual chef, restaurant or hawker stall. A Thai salad is often given the name yam or yum, but there are regional variations and the salad isn’t necessarily restricted to just vegetables. Meat, seafood or noodles may feature as a main ingredient together with chillies and lemon juice. Thai salads can be spicy, but even if you try one that is too spicy for you don’t dismiss them out of hand because there are so many different styles and you can always ask for something ‘mai phet‘ (not spicy) the next time. The salad in the photo is a variation of yam gai with organic vegetables and cost me 80 Baht.
Together with a mouth-watering mango smoothie at 50 Baht it was a delicious and nutritious lunch. This was at a mid-range cafÃ© in Chiang Mai and you can certainly pay less for something more rustic, but the quality of the ingredients here really stood out: tender chicken marinated in a spicy chilli sauce, lettuce, herbs, cherry tomatoes, onions, cucumber, sliced carrots, roasted nuts and lime juice.
Popular Thai salads to look out for include:
Yam nua (beef)
Yam yai (mixed vegetable)
Yam gai (chicken)
Yam mamuang (mango)
Yam wun sen (cellophane noodles)
Yam pla muk (squid)
Yam talay (mixed seafood)
Not all Thai salads are described as yam with famous exceptions being som tam (papaya salad) and the Northern Thai larb salad made from minced meat.