Wing Bean Salad – ยำถั่วพู (yum tua pu)
Wing Bean Salad is a central Thai dish featuring “wing beans” which are blanched and tossed with coconut milk, roasted chili paste, toasted coconut, tamarind, palm sugar and peanuts. If you can’t get wing beans where you are, they can be substituted with green beans or snap peas.
- 2 cups :wing beans:
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup toasted :coconut: *see note
- 2 teaspoons roasted peanuts
- 3/4 cup coconut milk *see note
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 tablespoons :roasted chili paste:
- 2 tablespoons tamarind paste (about 2 teaspoons tamarind pulp + 2 tablespoons hot water)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon palm sugar
- oil for frying the shallots
- 3-4 small dried chilies
- 2-3 medium sized shrimp
- 2 tablespoons shallots (1 tablespoon if you use pre-fried shallots)
- Slice the fresh coconut meat into match-stick size strips, about 1″ (2cm) long. Remove the skin of the shallots and slice thinly.
- Roast the coconut on medium heat in a dry pan until light brown. Keep stirring so it doesn’t burn. Set aside on a flat plate to cool.
- If your peanuts are not already roasted, dry roast them now like you did the coconut. Crush the peanuts with a stone mortar and pestle or the side of a heavy knife.
- Fry the shallots in enough vegetable oil to cover them on medium heat until golden brown. Be careful not to burn. Remove before dark brown as they will continue to cook for a minute or two once removed from the pan. (You can cheat here and buy pre-fried shallots in a container at many Asian groceries.)
- Fry the chilies in the oil until browned.
- Boil the eggs in water until hard-boiled, about 10 minutes. Replace the hot water with fresh cold water to stop the cooking. Peel and slice however you wish (halved, quartered, or sliced thin like shown).
- Clean the shrimp by peeling off the heads and legs, and removing the “vein” (intestine), but leave the tail on.
- Trim off the ends of the wing beans and boil whole in salt water for less than a minute — just enough time to turn a darker green. You want them to still be crisp & crunchy. Rinse in cold water and slice into 1/4″ pieces (as shown).
- Heat the coconut milk in a pan until boiling. Add the shrimp and cook until pink. Turn off heat and add the palm sugar, tamarind paste, roasted chili paste, lime juice, fish sauce, peanuts and coconut. Mix well.
- Add the wing beans and mix. Remove to a plate and arrange the eggs along side. Garnish with the fried shallots and chilies.
There are a few variations on this dish which include adding small pieces of boiled chicken or pork along with the shrimp.
If you cannot get fresh coconut where you are, or are too lazy to do that step, do not substitute for the dried coconut in the baking section of the supermarket. It's better to just leave it out.
It's essential to use good brands of coconut milk from Thailand. I recommend Chao Koh (Island People) and Mae Ploy. If you're using homemade coconut milk use just the cream (hua gati).
One of the key ingredients in this dish, "roasted chili paste" (naam prik pao) has shrimp or fish of some sort in it (usually dried shrimp and/or shrimp paste). In Thailand you can get vegetarian naam prik pao, but it's "jae" so there's also no shallots or garlic. I recommend if you're vegetarian to make your own naam prik pao and store it in your fridge to use for this dish.
You can leave out the shrimp/meat and instead add fried tofu or blanched mushrooms (or nothing!).
Fish sauce should be substituted for salt, as soy sauce would probably taste funny in this dish.