Cooking – Spanish Style Som Tam Salad

By Jemima Butler

Welcome you to our New Year’s page on amazing food, which Spanish traditions and international flavours

My love story with food started young, when my mother cooked Mediterranean cuisine while it was still unknown back in 60´s England.

I’ll never forget the alioli that we used to devour while travelling round eastern Spain where it is still served with bread and sometimes green olives as an aperitivo with a glass of cold beer or wine. Whilst young and travelling on a budget it was a fantastic way of filling up. The true alioli is literally just garlic (a whole head pealed) pounded whilst slowly letting a very thin stream of oil drizzle over it with a pestle to obtain a smooth rich consistency. I love it with cold lemony prawns, steamed fresh asparagus or a hot sizzling chorizo off the barbecue with crusty bread.

I have been lucky enough to have spent the beginning of this year in deep Andalucía enjoying the cuisine mostly unknown to the rest of the country. Something typical at this time of year is Ensalada de Migas con Bacalao, Naranja, Aceitunas y Cebolla. It is deliciously tasty, served with grilled fish or meat – we had it for Reyes lunch with a BBQ in the sun and I think it symbolizes the utter simplicity of the winter Spanish.

That said I think we are all now a little sated with seasonal meats and cheeses and looking for something a little lighter and crisper to (at least)  start the new year with. So I have chosen a tasty salad – a Spanish version of Som Tam.


  • A handful of thin green beans sliced lengthways in half if large if not just top and tail.
  • 1 carrot peeled and in julienne
  • 3 or 4 shallots sliced thinly
  • 3 or Celery shoots sliced thinly and lots of young leaves chopped up
  • Handful of Cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • Handful of unsalted cashews
  • Handful of coriander – leaves taken off stalks and roughly chopped
  • 1 small bird-eye chilli with or without the seeds and membrane depending on your heat capability or any other chilli you can get your hand on finely sliced or chopped with or without seeds

For The Dressing

  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Tbls of Nam Pla (fish sauce) available at many Asian grocery shops
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • Slice, chop and mix. Pour liberally over the salad. Enjoy!
    (If you can get your hands on green mango or green papaya use it and you can always add griddled prawns or squid to make it a main dish).

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