A blog about food in Thailand
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How To Make: Saa

Posted date:  February 12, 2009

The ingredients for saa, a local 'salad' of fresh greens, Mae Hong Son

Yesterday, Phii Laa, my neighbour, came over with the tray of ingredients pictured above and a desire to share her recipe for saa, a local type of yam or Thai-style ‘salad’. I was excited about this because in Mae Hong Son there are several variations on the standard Thai yam that I’ve yet to get my head around: there’s the type I mentioned in the previous blog, that uses par-boiled veggies; there’s sanaap, which apparently combines par-boiled veggies and a rather different dressing; and finally there’s saa, which appears to revolve around fresh greens.

The most common greens used to make saa range from tender mango or tamarind leaves to shredded lettuce. In this recipe Phii Laa used yot thua lantao, the tender young leaves from a type of pea, which she has growing in front of her house. If you’re making this at home, I reckon you could use just about any salad-type green.

Regarding the other ingredients, keep in mind that the type of sesame oil people in Mae Hong Son use is made from raw, not roasted sesame seeds. The flavour is significantly subtler, and if you can only get the more ubiquitous Chinese-style roasted sesame oil, I’d suggest diluting it with equal parts plain vegetable oil.

And many cooks here protein up their saa with bits of plaa thoo, steamed mackerel, but a few still do it the old-school way: with bits of deep-fried pork rind.

Saa (Shan/Thai Yai-style yam using fresh greens)

Saa, a local 'salad' of fresh greens, Mae Hong Son

Fresh greens, sliced thinly, 1 large bunch
Shallots, sliced thinly, 3
Tomatoes, seeded and sliced thinly, 3
Steamed mackerel or pork rinds
Roasted peanuts, ground coarsely, 3 Tbsp
Nam phrik phong, 1 Tbsp (see previous blog for a description of this ingredient)
Sesame oil/garlic oil, 1 Tbsp
Salt, to taste

Combine greens, shallots, tomatoes and fish or pork rinds, in a large bowl.  Top with peanuts, a pinch of salt, oil and nam phrik phong:

Seasoning saa, a local 'salad' of fresh greens, Mae Hong Son

Mix thoroughly by hand:

Mixing saa, a local 'salad' of fresh greens, Mae Hong Son

and season to taste. Serve on its own as a snack or with rice.

3 Comments for How To Make: Saa

Yum…this recipe will work well with either snow pea shoots or baby spinach I think. I’m gonna try =)

[…] Phil was grilling the sausage, I made two Mae Hong Son dishes: saa, a salad of pea shoots, and kaeng hang lay. I had brought with me a couple of the more obscure […]

[…] first recipe is a simple but delicious salad, known locally as saa, of green tomatoes. Nuea tam, ‘pounded meat,’ is an deceptively simple side dish that’s […]

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