Thai-style Papaya Salad Alternative

Papaya salad (Som Tam) is a dish that originated in Southeast Asia. With its unique blend of sweet, spicy, sour, and salty tastes and crunchy texture, Som Tam has been voted as the #6 most delicious food in the world by CNN Travel.
Som Tam can be found in most Thai and Laotian markets and is famous among travelers, tourists, and ethnic food lovers around the world.
In context with Hmong history, Hmong people have been familiar with this dish since before their arrival in the United States. However, I believe that Hmong people are more accustomed to the Laotian version called Tam Maak Hoong which has a stronger flavor due to ingredients such as tamarind paste and fermented crab paste.
Som Tam is a very healthy and light dish that is sure to make your taste buds tingle. In this blog post, I will be showing you how to make a simplified Som Tam without the papaya! Let’s get started, shall we?

Meet the Main Ingredients

som tam ingredients

Ingredients List:


  1. Shred cabbage and cucumber
  2. Slice tomatoes
  3. Peel garlic
  4. Squeeze lemon/lime

Cooking Instructions

ingredients in mortar
ingredients in mortar

  1. Add garlic, peanuts, and chili peppers into mortar
  2. Use pestle to roughly smash ingredients
  3. Add lemon/lime juice and mix well with spoon
  4. Add rest of ingredients
  5. Use spoon to work ingredients together while smashing
  6. Continuing smashing ingredients in mortar until mixed well

Presentation: Thai-style Cabbage & Cucumber Salad

thai-style cabbage and cucumber salad

  • Scoop the salad from mortar into bowl/plate
  • Optional: Sprinkle with crushed peanuts for presentation
  • Best eaten with a side of sticky rice!


  • For a sweet summer flavor, try substituting cabbage and cucumbers with mangoes
  • Add long green beans for a crunchy texture and gorgeous color
  • Add vermicelli noodles for a soft texture

Happy Eating!


Steamed Cabbage Rolls: Healthy Alternative to Egg Rolls

Cabbage Rolls (aka Stuffed Cabbage) is a common dish among Eastern Europe and Asia, and has been adopted throughout the world. With the replacement of growing poppies with cash crops in Asia, Hmong farmers have been cultivating cabbage for 30+ years now. According to my mother, who experienced first-hand the cultivation of cabbage in Laos, Hmong people were familiar with and ate cabbage but they didn’t learn to make cabbage rolls until arrival in the U.S. I assume that they adopted this recipe from the Chinese seeing as it is a mixture of Chinese Stuffed Cabbage and Egg Rolls.

This delectable dish consists of wrapping various ingredients inside of a leaf of cabbage. It is a very healthy alternative to egg rolls. Cabbage rolls can be cooked in many different ways such as steamed, simmered, or baked. In this blog post, I will be showing you know to make steamed cabbage rolls with a simple stuffing, similar to that of egg rolls. Let’s get started, shall we?

Meet the Main Ingredients

cabbage leaves
ingredients for filling

Ingredients List:


Cabbage Leaves:

cabbage preparation

  1. Boil a pot of water
  2. Cook cabbage leaves in boiling water for 2-3 minutes until soft
  3. Drain cabbage leaves and soak in cold water to cool down

filling preparation

  1. Soak cellophane noodles in hot water for 10-15 minutes until soft
  2. Drain noodles and cut into 2 inches length
  3. Mix noodles with ground pork, minced onion, and salt
    1. Take a cabbage leaf and lay it flat
    2. Scoop two spoonful of filling into cabbage leaf
    3. Roll cabbage leaf in the same way as you do an egg roll (see photos below)

wrapping cabbage roll

wrapping cabbage roll
wrapping cabbage roll
wrapping cabbage roll

Cooking Instructions

cooking cabbage rolls

  1. Place wrapped cabbage rolls into steamer and cover with lid
  2. Cook on stove for approximately 20 minutes or until filling is fully cooked

Presentation: Steamed Cabbage Rolls

finished cabbage rolls

  • Allow cabbage rolls to cool down
  • Serve with pepper sauce (or any sauce of your choice)
  • Enjoy! 🙂


  • Are you a vegan? Substitute ground pork with tofu or various veggies
  • Replace cellophane noodles with brown rice
  • Try baking the cabbage rolls instead of steaming
  • Try other veggies such as carrots or celery