Recipes, Side Dish Recipes

Pounded cucumber salad

Pounded salads are a staple on the streets of Thailand often eaten as a snack with some sticky rice or as part of a larger meal. Originating around the Laos and Isaan (northeastern Thailand) border it has spread across the country with a bunch of different variations. Som tam – a pounded salad made from green papaya – is the most commonly found variety of these types of salads in Thailand. A simple alternative when green papaya isn’t to hand is this recipe for tam dtaeng kwaa. 

This salad is perfect when served alongside chicken breasts, diced pork, our northern Thai sai ua sausages, or with flavoursome artisan steaks.

Pounded cucumber salad with peanuts and beans recipe (Tam dtaeng kwaa)

Pounded cucumber salad with peanuts
and beans recipe (Tam dtaeng kwaa)

Recipe by

Serves 2-4


  • 1 long cucumber

  • 2-3 red birds-eye chillis depending on how hot they are

  • 1 garlic clove, cut in half

  • 1 scant tbsp of palm sugar

  • 3 pieces lime*

  • 2 tbsp fried peanuts

  • 1 tbsp dried shrimp

  • 1 tbsp tamarind water

  • 1 tbsp lime juice

  • 1 tbsp nam pla

  • 6 cherry tomato halves

  • green beans or 6 long snake beans if you can get them

    *How to cut a lime: first slice it in half long ways, then into 3 or 4 wedges depending on the size of you lime a la fish and chips or in the neck of a bottle of beer and then cut each of these wedges in half. You should end up with 12 or 16 pieces per lime.


  • Start by peeling the cucumber and deseeding it.
  • Now cut the cucumber into chunks about the size of your thumb then put it to one side.
  • Next, pound the chillies and garlic in a clay mortar and pestle until reasonably smooth, add the palm sugar and pound some more.
  • Put the limes in the bottom lightly muddle them to release the juice.
  • Add the peanuts and dried shrimp and crush a bit.
  • Add the tamarind, fish sauce, lime juice and cucumbers.
  • Now scoop and pound the salad at the same time. One hand pounds whilst the other one tosses the salad with a flat spoon and so on – this technique will slightly bruise the cucumber and if it breaks a little that’s no problem as it will assist in absorbing some of the dressing and flavours.
  • Add the beans and tomato halves and bruise slightly.
  • Taste the dressing and adjust if necessary – it should taste sweet, spicy, sour and a just enough salinity to season.