Web Service
About us
Audio/ Video news
Subscribe now !
Online Sub
Online Adv


Tam Marktong a salad instead of a coffee break to refresh energy

Some Lao people are likely to eat a lot at lunch because they skip breakfast due to the limited time in the morning or because they are engaged in very hard work and need more energy.

After such a heavy meal, many people feel tired because they have usually eaten a lot of sugar or carbohydrates.

Instead, sour snacks to be eaten during the day, such as the many kinds of spicy Lao salads, are a good option to refresh the body and boost energy levels.

Tam Marktong (Lao spicy sandoricum indicum salad) is one of the famous snacks eaten during afternoon breaks that are popular with youngsters and office employees.

All the ingredients including Marktong are put in the mortar to be ground for the salad.

Ripe sandoricum indicum can be harvested only from May to early August, which is the only time to enjoy this seasonal dish.

The ingredients of Tam Marktong are ripe sandoricum indicum or santol, small eggplant, dry or fresh chilly, a bit of salt and shrimp paste, fish sauce, Padaek (fermented fish sauce) and sugar.

Fried local small crabs, Phak Kha Yaeng (finger grass) and shrimp can also be added to the dish to make it tastier.

Across the country, Tam Marktong is prepared in different ways, as people use several different ingredients because they have their own way of making the dish.

An officer worker in Vientiane, Ms Da, told Vientiane Times that she loves eating Tam Marktong with her co-workers after lunch. She brings all the ingredients from home to prepare the dish in office so that she and her colleagues can boost their energy and prepare for the long working in the afternoon.

“My co-workers and I help each other to prepare the ingredients. We start by cleaning the fresh hot chili, small eggplants and finger grass. Then, we peel off the santol and soak it in clean water and salt or it will turn to dark brown when the peeled santol is exposed to air before the salad is made,” she explained.

She said that she chooses only ripe and big santol because it is less sour and astringent. This kind of santol makes the Tam Marktong taste better.

“For my recipe, I add fresh hot chili, a bit of seasoning powder, shrimp paste, salt and some sugar in the mortar and then grind them with a pestle before adding Padaek and fish sauce. Next, we chop the eggplants, finger grass and santol into small pieces in order to mix them with the other ingredients,” Ms Da said.

Ms Da doesn't like the dish tasting sweet and so she doesn't add much sugar or fried crab. Sometimes, she skips these ingredients for her dish.

The sour taste and Vitamin C from santol mixes well with the spicy flavours of the hot chili, salt, fish sauce and Padaek, the sweetness of the small eggplant and sugar and the aroma from the finger grass, generating a fantastic taste.

Since santol has a very sour taste and is a bit astringent, people usually use it as an ingredient in dishes, such as using santol instead of tamarind in a hot pot or for adding a sour taste to chicken and fish soup.

Another popular way to eat santol is to pickle it in water containing salt and sugar, and then keeping it aside for two or three days to reduce the sourness and remove the astringency.

However, some species of santol have been developed that are bigger, sweeter and less astringent.

These new species of santol can be used in a sweet dish by peeling off the skin and serving with syrup and ice. This kind of sweet dish can also refresh the body but it is not a very popular dish.

Tam Marktong is also believed to contribute to harmony among family members and friends as they can talk and share information while eating the dish together during a break.



By Souksamai Boulom
(Latest Update July 24, 2017)


Newspaper Subscription l Newspaper Advertisement l Online Advertisement l Online Subscription

Vientiane Times Phonpapao Village, Unit 32, Sisattanak District, P.O.Box: 5723 Vientiane, Lao PDR
Tel: (856-21) 336042, 336048, Fax: (856-21) 336041

Copyright © 1999 Vientiane Times Newspaper.