Crunch: To chew with a grinding sound; a critical situation.
I don’t know at what point in the evolution of language the verb “crunch” came to mean the noun “a critical situation.” In fact, etymonline.com gives a timeline, beginning 1814. If you like, look it up. It is interesting.
I do hope I can interest you today with the crunch of yam som-o, the Thai salad.
True to its name, yam, meaning “to mix,” is a tasty salad of just about anything you have in your kitchen: fruit, noodles, meat, vegetables, seafood, nuts, boiled or steamed food, grilled meat, pickled vegetables, fried or dried food. Dressing may include patis (fish sauce), lime or lemon juice, chilies, sugar, green onions, shallots, cilantro, ginger, tanglad (lemongrass). From the looks of it, yam is a forgiving salad, flexible enough to embrace anyone’s creative interpretation.
BASIC. I found the DNA of the pomelo-based salad, yam sam-o, online. It is up to you to play with the ratio between the acidic dressing and the main ingredients.
The recipe: Patis, lime juice, honey or brown sugar, vinegar and chopped chilies and onion. The salad: Pomelo, toasted coconut, kaffir lime leaves, cilantro, romaine lettuce, dried shrimps and chopped nuts.
I got into this salad because my friend Illustracio gave me five pieces of pink pomelo. It was sweet with a hint of pineapples. Uncle Gustave suggested we make yam sam-o.
We did not have some of the ingredients. But as I said, yam is very flexible based on the myriad recipes online. So we fried, chopped and mixed away.
OUR YAM. We mixed the pomelo with carrot sticks, shrimps and shredded lettuce. We dressed it with patis, lemon juice, sugar, chilies and red onion. And we crowned it with chicken nuggets!