It’s hard to find green papaya this time of the year to make tum mak houng or spicy papaya salad, so I substitute it with Rutabaga instead. I actually didn’t discover this dish, many Thai and Lao people living abroad discovered that Rutabaga tastes equally as good as papaya, and some said it’s even better because of it’s aroma, sweet taste and crunchy. I bought this from a grocery store today, the cashier didn’t know what it was, and good thing it has a label on it otherwise I wouldn’t know what to tell him. It’s hard for me to pronounce, many Lao people call it Ruba for short. Rutabaga is believed to have originated from a hybrid between the turnip and wild cabbage, probably in Bohemia and as recently as the 17th century. Rutabaga is a cool-weather crop and is grown primarily in the northern parts of the United States and Europe, in Great Britain and in Canada. I found mine in my local grocery store in the vegetable section.
It’s waxed, and my guess is that the wax is to preserve the Rutabaga. I peel the skin off before shredding it similar to green papaya.
It’s a basic Som Tum ingredients: 1 tbsp spoon of sugar, 1 tbsp of shrimp paste, 2 tbsp of fish sauce, 1 garlic cove, 2 chili peppers, 4 cocktail tomatoes, 1 slice of lime.
Shredded Rutabaga, and green beans
I mixed the ingredients first as a sauce, then add shredded Rutabaga and green beans last.
The prep time is less than 15 minutes, and I have to say that it does taste as good as spicy green papaya salad.