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Thai Long Bean Salad Recipe (Som Tum Tua)

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This easy Thai long bean salad recipe, or som tum tua, is perfect for a quick meal with no cooking required. It’s a healthy and light summer favorite with crisp vegetables tossed in a sweet, tangy, and spicy homemade dressing.

Thai long bean salad, known as som tum tua, with yardlong beans, lime, and ripe tomatoes on a bamboo basket.

There’s nothing like a cool Thai salad when it’s super hot in Thailand. Som tum Thai and som tam pla ra are two of my favorites, and this bean salad with yard-long beans is my number one choice if I don’t have papaya on hand.

This easy salad recipe is perfect for every home cook, and you can adjust the flavors just how you like it.

What is som tum tua

Som tum tua is a popular Thai salad with long beans and tomatoes, dressed in a mix that’s tangy, sweet, and a bit spicy. It’s a refreshing dish, often served with Thai sticky rice and some grilled meat on the side.


In Thai, som means sour, tum refers to the action of crushing or pounding with a mortar and pestle, and tua means beans. So, Som tum tua refers to a salad that is made by crushing the ingredients using a mortar and pestle and includes beans as one of its primary ingredients.

Thai long bean salad

My favorite vegetables for this salad are crisp yard long beans and tomatoes. If you have green beans on hand, you can use those too.

The dressing is a mix of umami, salty, spicy, and sweet, made with traditional Thai seasonings and sauces. For me, the flavors are just perfect as they are, but feel free to customize them to your taste. Balancing the flavors is what Thai cooking is all about.

A clay mortar and pestle is preferred for making Thai salads, but if you don’t have one you can use other materials, just make sure to not completely crush the beans. The key is to gently bruise them so they can soak up the dressing.

Thai long bean salad with yardlong beans, tomatoes, and Thai spices, ready to enjoy.

I think this is the kind of dish that’s perfect for hot summer days. It’s full of healthy greens, and it’s refreshing, it leaves you feeling good with no guilt.

Thai green bean salad

This recipe can be tweaked to turn it into a family meal. Vegetarians can use a vegan fish sauce alternative and skip the fermented fish sauce. It’ll still be delicious, but in a different way. And if you can’t eat spicy food, just use less or no chilies at all.

What you’ll love most about it is how quickly it comes together. In just 10–15 minutes, you can make this easy Chinese long bean salad. Once you’ve prepped the vegetables, you’re halfway there.

It’s perfect for a busy weekday and any occasion. Whether you’re looking for a light and refreshing lunch or a healthy dinner with Thai sticky rice, this bean salad is versatile and always delicious.

Ingredients

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.


Top-view of ingredients for Thai long bean salad: yardlong beans, lime, tomatoes, dried chilies, fish sauce, palm sugar, tamarind sauce, and more.
  • Yard long beans – These are also called Chinese long beans, snake beans, and asparagus beans. Alternatively, you can use green beans.
  • Small tomatoes – You can use any type of small tomato, like cherry tomatoes. If you don’t have small tomatoes, you can use large ones and slice them accordingly.
  • Dried peppers – Dried chilies are spicier than fresh chili peppers. Make sure to adjust the amount to your spice level.
  • Garlic
  • Lime – A squeeze of fresh lime juice add a tangy freshness.
  • Fermented fish sauce – Fermented fish sauce is full of umami and adds a rich, salty flavor. It’s a staple in Isan, the Northeast of Thailand.
  • Tamarind paste – This adds a sour and unique, slightly sweet flavor to the salad dressing.
  • Palm sugar Palm sugar brings a caramel-like sweetness, distinct from white and brown sugar.
  • Fish sauce – Fish sauce is a key ingredient in Thai food, adding a salty and funky flavor.

Short recipe video

How to make Thai bean salad

Fresh yardlong beans, tomatoes, lime, and chilies prepared for Thai long bean salad.

Step 1: Slice the long beans into medium-sized pieces, chop the tomatoes into small chunks, and cut the lime in half.

Garlic and dried chilies crushed in a mortar.

Step 2: Crush garlic and dried chilies with a mortar and pestle.

Close-up of pounded yardlong beans in a mortar.

Step 3: Add sliced long beans, pounding until they start to burst open so they can soak up the dressing.

Seasoned yardlong beans in a clay mortar, infused with spices.

Step 4: Mix in the fish sauce, fermented fish sauce, tamarind paste, and palm sugar. Pound until palm sugar is completely dissolved.

A mortar with Thai long bean salad with tomatoes and lime.

Step 5: Squeeze in fresh lime juice, throw in the peel, followed by the tomatoes. Give it all a gentle but good mix and serve your spicy long bean salad immediately. Enjoy!

Kitchenware

  1. Cutting board and chef’s knife
  2. Measuring spoons and cups
  3. Thai mortar and pestle

Tips for making salad with beans

Balance the flavors: Taste as you go while pounding the salad. The perfect balance of sour, sweet, spicy, and salty is key to an authentic som tum tua.

Spice to your liking: Adjust the amount of chili to control the heat. Dried chilies tend to be spicier than their fresh counterparts, so keep that in mind.

Serve fresh: This salad is not the best dish to make ahead of time. Enjoy it fresh and mix it up just before you’re ready.

Serving ideas

This cold green bean salad can be enjoyed on its own, or you can serve it with other side sides. I like to pair it with grilled meats like Thai chicken wings, moo yang, and crying tiger steak. A side of jasmine rice or Thai sticky rice and fresh vegetables like Thai eggplants, lettuce, and crispy cucumbers is recommended for a filling meal.

Colorful and crunchy som tum tua with vegetables and spicy dressing, with a portion of sticky rice.

Storage tips

Bean salad will last for up to 24 hours in the fridge, stored in an airtight container. If you store it for longer, the beans might absorb more of the dressing and become soggy, which could affect the texture and taste of the salad.

Frequently asked questions

  1. What is Thai long bean salad made of?

    Thai long bean salad aka som tum sua is made with yardlong beans, small red tomatoes, and a mix of other ingredients like garlic and lime. The dressing is a combination of palm sugar, fermented fish sauce, tamarind paste, and chilies.

  2. Is this Thai salad healthy?

    Yes, this salad is low-carb and full of healthy vegetables, vitamins, and nutrients. It’s perfect for a guilt-free light meal throughout the day.

  3. What’s a good alternative for yardlong beans?

    If you can’t find yardlong beans, green beans or French beans work great as a replacement.

  4. Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

    This salad is freshest when made just before eating, but you can chop the vegetables in advance and keep them in the fridge.

Easy Thai salad recipes

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Thai Long Bean Salad Recipe (Som Tum Tua)

Thai long bean salad, known as som tum tua, with yardlong beans, lime, and ripe tomatoes on a bamboo basket.
This easy and healthy Thai long bean salad recipe is quick to make with traditional Thai ingredients. Som tum tua is ready in 10 minutes and perfect for warm summer days!
Praew
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Salad, Side Dish
Serving Size 2 people

Ingredients

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 4 dried chilies to taste
  • 10 yardlong beans cut into 1-inch sizes
  • 1/2 tablespoon palm sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fermented fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
  • 1/2 lime
  • 2 small tomatoes

Instructions

  • Slice the long beans into medium-sized pieces, chop the tomatoes into small chunks, and cut the lime in half.
  • Crush the garlic and dried chilies with a mortar and pestle.
  • Add the long beans, pounding until they start to burst open so they can soak up the dressing.
  • Mix in the fish sauce, fermented fish sauce, tamarind paste, and palm sugar. Pound until palm sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Squeeze in fresh lime juice, throw in the peel, followed by the tomatoes. Give it all a gentle but good mix and serve your spicy long bean salad immediately. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline
  • Serve as a side with other meals, or as a main with Thai sticky rice.
  • Add chilies to taste.

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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this tonight to go with dinner! It reminded me of being in Thailand. Great recipe. So much flavour! I will definitely be making this again!

5 from 2 votes (1 rating without comment)

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