Updated: Nov 2, 2021
You guys, my following is so massive (jkjk). I posted a picture of this dish in my Insta stories this week and the recipe requests slid into my DMs. So here I am, sharing the recipe.
This recipe was brought to Thailand by Southern Burmese immigrants. It became a staple of Royal Thai cuisine when Burmese people began working in the Royal Court and adapting their native recipes to Thai flavor preferences. Royal Thai cuisine made its way to the general population when those working and studying in the palace (sort of a domestic work/study program) brought the dishes they learned back to their families and communities. Most likely, Yam Ta-wai is very similar to the original Burmese dish, with the Thai influence showing up in the curry dressing. The dressing is essentially a concentrated Thai red curry with dried fish added for body and aroma. The original curry dressing likely calls for fewer aromatics than the Thai version.
As this is a Royal Thai dish, all of the ingredients should be cut very thin and should not exceed the length of a spoon in size (specifically, the spoon you'll be eating with). All of the vegetables should be similar in size, so that no one vegetable overpowers the others. A nice guide for your cutting size and shape is the bean sprouts in the recipe. As long as you're not cooking for the King of Thailand, you don't have to do prep to the bean sprouts, so just cut all your vegetables to be similar in size to the sprouts. (** If you are cooking for a Thai royal, you need to remove the tops and tails of the sprouts- but I don't need to tell you that. As a Royal Thai chef, you know that already ;-) what are you even doing reading this blog?!)
Ok, on to the recipe!
Yam Ta-Wai, Southern Burmese Salad Recipe
1 cup (200 grams) coconut cream*
3 cups (600 grams) water
1.5 cups (80 grams) morning glory (substitutes: cabbage or even better, Swiss chard stems sliced very very thinly on the bias)
1.5 cups (80 grams) bean sprouts
1.5 cups (80 grams) bamboo shoot
1.5 cups (80 grams) string beans
1.5 cups (80 grams) green bell peppers
* Look for Aroy-D or Chaokoh brands of coconut milk. The box will say coconut milk, but since they are quite concentrated we call it coconut cream in my Thai cuisine class. Shake before pouring!
** The idea is to get a good mix of mellow flavored vegetables, so you can really substitute for whatever fresh vegetable you like. Canned options that would also go nicely here are baby corn and water chesnuts.
Khua Curry Paste
1T (15g) galangal, finely chopped
3T (30g) lemongrass, finely chopped
2T (30g) shallot, chopped
1T (20g) garlic
1t (8g) coriander root or stems, finely chopped
Zest of 1 entire kaffir lime or any available lime
1/4 t (2g) white pepper corns
1/2 t (10g) shrimp paste (omit for vegan version and double salt)
1/2 t (5g) salt
1/4 cup (15g) dried smoked fish meat (vegan sub: nut milk pulp, or nut flour / coconut flour. For coconut flour try 2T as it is quite dry. The intention for this ingredient is to thicken)
Paste Cooking liquids and seasonings
2 cups (400g) coconut cream
2T (50g) palm sugar
1.5 T (30g) fish sauce (vegan version sub. vegan fish sauce or 2 pinches of salt)
3T (60g ) tamarind juice (substitute 30g lime juice, add off heat)
*If you can, use a scale for the paste, measuring by volume is very imprecise for fresh chopped herbs
** Unfortunately for a curry paste, there are not many substitutions. But if there is only one or two ingredients you can't find, just omit those ingredients. The one substitution I would suggest is for the kaffir lime zest. Try using whatever lime you can find.