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Easy Thai Corn Salad Recipe

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Easy Thai corn salad recipe or ‘tam khao pod’ as we call it locally makes a refreshing, filling, yet light summer lunch or dinner. Similar to som tum Thai (green papaya salad), a mix of fresh ingredients are pounded with a traditional mortar and pestle, creating a healthy and nutritious meal. Enjoy a perfect medley of sweet, savory, sour, and spicy notes all in a single dish, with fresh corn as the centerpiece.

Thai corn salad made with sweetcorn, yard-long beans, tomatoes, red chilies, and carrots, served in a clay dish. The background features decorative flowers and fresh vegetables used in the dish.

Here are some more easy Thai salad recipes you can try later: Lao papaya salad, Thai ground beef larb recipe, Thai salad dressing, and Thai ground beef lettuce wraps.

What is Thai corn salad

Summer equals corn season, and corn season equals Thai summer salads! This dish originated in the Isan cuisine, the Northeastern region of Thailand. Isan is known for its extensive use of fresh ingredients, herbs, and spices, and they have blessed us with this amazing summer salad.

Thai woman presenting sweetcorn salad with colorful vegetables, playfully lifting a spoonful of the dish.

With its delightful dressing of spicy, sour, and sweet, this twist on Bangkok’s most famous salad som tum Thai has captured the hearts of Thai people of all ages. It’s a breeze to make, this recipe comes together quick and easy. The ingredients are gently bruised and pounded using a wooden or clay mortar and pestle, which not only intensifies the flavors but also releases their aroma.

Right part of a clay dish filled with a Thai street food salad, featuring colorful vegetables and a tangy dressing.

It features sweet corn as the key ingredient, accompanied by healthy vegetables such as shredded carrots, juicy tomatoes, and crisp yard-long beans.

Thai chilies are added for that signature heat, and this nutritious summer dish packs a punch. But if you’re not in a spicy mood, you can simply reduce the number of chili peppers to your liking.

Traditional ingredients of Thai cuisine such as fish sauce and fresh lime juice, tamarind paste, and palm sugar make up the savory dressing. Dried shrimp and salted duck egg are sometimes added as a variation, but we’re keeping things simple in this kid-friendly recipe.

Close-up of a Thai-style salad with sweetcorn, yard-long beans, roasted peanuts, and shredded carrot.

Mortar and pestle

Southeast Asian salads are known to be total comfort food, packed with bold flavors. Most of these pounded street food salads are not tossed together, instead, they’re skillfully prepared with an iconic and traditional tool of Southeast Asian cuisine – a large clay or wooden mortar and pestle. This kitchen tool is a part of our culinary tradition, and a daily staple in every Thai household.

The granite version of the mortar and pestle is meant to be used when you want to crush your ingredients into a fine paste, for example, red curry paste or green curry paste.

Top-down view of a fresh summer corn salad with many vegetables served in a clay dish, on a banana leaf.

When preparing this easy Thai corn salad recipe, the mortar and pestle is a kitchen essential. We use it to gently pound the ingredients together, releasing their juices and natural flavors. A simple mix of ingredients can come together and create a delightful taste.

For me, the mortar and pestle is not just a kitchen tool. It’s the heart of Thai cuisine, and it brings my family closer together. I cherish the moments spent pounding a Thai salad with my grandmother or my mother, experimenting with different flavors and ingredients, and creating our own unique family recipes.

We’ve prepared countless variations around the classic ‘som tum’, where ‘tum’ is the term for ‘pounding of ingredients’. Fresh fruits, tangy green mangoes, vermicelli noodles, ripe mangoes, sweet papaya, cucumber, corn, and transparent glass noodles are all delightful twists, each with their own unique flavors.

Close-up of a fresh, colorful Asian corn salad with peanuts, long beans, shredded carrot, and chilies in a clay dish.

Recipe tips

  • Bruise, don’t crush: Gently mix and bruise the ingredients, don’t crush them completely. You want the yard-long beans to maintain their crunchy texture, and the corn should remain intact as well.
  • Fresh ingredients: Use the freshest ingredients for the best flavors. Experiment with other vegetables and fruits if you wish!
  • Corn preparation: Choose fresh, juicy, sweetcorn. In Isan, we first boil the corn, but you can choose to grill or steam it as well.
  • Serve fresh: Prepare this recipe right before serving to enjoy the crunch of the ingredients.
  • Vegetarian: For a vegetarian Thai sweetcorn salad, sub the fish sauce for vegan fish sauce.
  • Spice-level: Adapt the spice level if needed. If you’re having this meal with kids, omit the chilies or remove the seeds. Alternatively, you can add thinly sliced bell peppers.
  • Taste-test as you go and try to achieve a well-balanced mix of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. This is what Thai cuisine is all about, tasting while cooking and adjusting where needed.

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.


All ingredients for this recipe presented in clay cups, plastic cups, and a clay dish: Fish sauce, fresh lime juice, tamarind sauce, palm sugar, sweetcorn, roasted peanuts, yard-long beans, tomatoes, and carrots.
  • Corn – Use fresh, sweetcorn if you can. If not, use canned corn kennels. In Isan we boil the corn, but grilling or steaming can be done as well.
  • Carrots, tomatoes, yard-long beans – My choice of fresh veggies, feel free to adjust. Slice yard-long beans and tomatoes into bite-sized pieces, shred the carrots.
  • Lime – Fresh lime juice for a fresh, tangy flavor is highly recommended.
  • Fish sauce, tamarind sauce, palm sugar – Paired with fresh lime juice these ingredients form the sweet, tangy, and salty dressing. You can find them at any Asian grocery store or at Asian markets.
  • Garlic – Raw garlic cloves pounded with fresh chili peppers is the perfect base for an amazing sweet and spicy corn salad.
  • Roasted peanuts – Unsalted peanuts are the best option. Making roasted peanuts gives an extra BBQ flavor.
  • Chilies – Use Thai fresh chili peppers. If you’re not fond of spicy food, remove the seeds or use a milder type of chili.

Cooking instructions

Step 1: Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the sweetcorn, cover the pot, and let boil for 7 minutes for a crisp texture. For a softer texture, cook for 10–15 minutes. After boiling, let it cool down and cut the corn into bite-sized pieces.Cooking pot containing boiling water and two pieces of boiled sweetcorn.

Step 2: Crush garlic and fresh chili peppers with a mortar and pestle.Top-down view of crushed garlic and red chili peppers in a clay mortar.

Step 3: Mix in the palm sugar, fish sauce, tamarind sauce, and fresh lime juice.Top-down view of a tangy dressing in clay mortar with wooden pestle and spoon.

Step 4: Combine the remaining ingredients (roasted peanuts, sweetcorn, carrot, tomatoes, crisp yard-long beans) and gently pound and mix until all ingredients are coated with the dressing. Serve immediately.Cropped view of a woman seated, adding vegetables to a traditional clay mortar with a wooden pestle.

How to serve tam khao pod

Immediately after preparing this healthy meal with low calories, enjoy it on its own as a light and filling lunch or dinner. It’s also the perfect summer recipe to serve with other side-dishes or salads. Thai sticky rice, Thai chicken wings, or spicy fried chicken are all great options.

How to store

This dish is best enjoyed fresh, and you should prepare it right before serving. It doesn’t keep well, since the dressing will make the veggies a bit soggy. If you do have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in your fridge and eat them as soon as possible or within 2 days.

To store for later serving, prep the veggies and dressing and store in the refrigerator separately. Combine just before serving.

Frequently asked questions

What does corn salad taste like?

Thai corn salad is a unique experience in every way. It’s refreshing, with a mix of flavors typical of Thai cuisine. Sweetcorn provides a natural sweetness, chili peppers bring a touch of spice, fresh lime juice and tamarind paste bring a tangy flavor, fish sauce adds saltiness and savory, while the fresh herbs add a refreshing touch.

Can I make this in advance?

Yes, you can prep the vegetables and the dressing beforehand and store them in your fridge separately. Combine everything fresh when you’re ready to serve to maintain the crispiness of the ingredients.

Is Thai salad healthy?

Yes, a Thai salad is packed with healthy vegetables and fresh herbs, and sometimes fruits. It’s high in vitamins and minerals, and usually low calorie, depending on the ingredients used. This recipe is healthy and can be enjoyed guilt-free. Enjoy it in moderation because a Thai salad can become less healthy because of the fish sauce added.

More Thai summer salads you’ll love

  • Nam tok beef – Grilled beef salad with fresh herbs and spices.
  • Yum woon sen – Pork salad with glass noodles and vegetables.
  • Long bean salad – A crunchy, healthy salad with yard-long beans as the main ingredient.
  • Larb gai salad – A traditional, flavorful salad with minced chicken and many herbs and spices.

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Easy Thai Corn Salad Recipe

Thai corn salad made with sweetcorn, yard-long beans, tomatoes, red chilies, and carrots, served in a clay dish on a banana leaf.
This healthy Thai salad recipe with sweetcorn comes together quickly. Enjoy on its own or with other food for a flavorful lunch or dinner.
Praew
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Main Course, Salad
Serving Size 2 people

Ingredients

  • 1 corn sweetcorn
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 chilies Thai chilies, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar chop to measure
  • 1.5 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 ounce peanuts roasted
  • 0.7 ounces carrot shredded
  • 1.4 ounce tomato bite-sized pieces
  • 1.8 ounce yard-long beans bite-sized pieces

Instructions

  • Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the sweetcorn, cover the pot, and let boil for 7 minutes for a crisp texture. For a softer texture, cook for 10–15 minutes. After boiling, let it cool down and cut the corn into bite-sized pieces.
  • Crush garlic and fresh chili peppers with a mortar and pestle.
  • Mix in the palm sugar, fish sauce, tamarind sauce, and fresh lime juice.
  • Combine the remaining ingredients (roasted peanuts, sweetcorn, carrot, tomatoes, crisp yard-long beans) and gently pound and mix until all ingredients are coated with the dressing. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Feel free to add your favorite vegetables or herbs.
  • For a vegan version, swap the fish sauce for vegan fish sauce.
  • This dish is best enjoyed fresh, and you should prepare it right before serving. It doesn't keep well, since the dressing will make the veggies a bit soggy.

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