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Preserved Meat in Banana Leaf {Som Nuer}

Okay, so lately I don’t know what gets into me, but I have been doing a lot of preserve food at home. This reminds me of something I’ve always wanted to do which is writing a cookbook about the rustic preserve food of the Northeast of Thailand. Somehow that dream of mine got lost, but now it has been rediscovered. I feel like myself again. I think it’s because my mom is staying with us now. She is a very positive and hard working , and that inspires me a lot to do more with my life.

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So first of all, the original recipe of Preserved Meat in Banana Leaf requires fresh beef, but Maharashtra, the state of India I’m living in, has banned the selling of beef so I got water buffalo meat instead. Water buffalo meat is quite lean and tough, and this technique actually makes the meat more tender and delicious.

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In Thailand, when we have a lot of meat at home, Som Nuer can be prepared to preserve the meat to use later. It can be kept for months; the longer the better. The method of preserving meat is simple. You only need salt, garlic, cooked sticky rice and some chili. The process is quite similar to Som Khai Pla (Preserved Fish Roe), but the mixture is later elaborately wrapped in banana leaf which gives a distinct earthy flavor to the meat.

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Som Nuer can be eaten fresh or cooked before eating. I love having it cooked and mixed with fresh herbs before savoring it with sticky rice.

Preserved Meat in Banana Leaf {Som Nuer}


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700 gm lean meat (I use fresh water buffalo meat)

¼ cup sea salt

½ cup cooked sticky rice

½ cup roughly chopped garlic

Some fresh red birdeye chilies

Banana leaves for wrapping (cut into 6’’x4”)

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Cut the meat in small pieces, and chop until it becomes coarsely minced.

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In a large bowl, combine minced meat, salt, garlic and cooked sticky rice.

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Mix the ingredients together well with hand.

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Divide the mixture into about 2 tbsp each and form into oval patties. Throw in some red chilies.

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Wrap the meat in banana leaves using 2 pieces of banana leaves. Take one patty of the mixture in one wrap and add a few chilies in the wrap as well.

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Fold the banana leaves in half and wrap the edges. Secure the wrap with a small string. We made the strings from the middle part of banana leaves. You can use elastic bands or cooking strings as well.

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Keep the wrapped preserved meat in a plastic bag or ziplock bag, and store it in a cool dry place for 3 days. You may notice some liquid leaking out of the wraps, and that is totally how it is supposed to be. After 3 days, keep the meat in the fridge. You can keep the meat in the fridge upto 2 months.

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This delicious preserved meat can be eaten raw with some chilies, shallots and garlic, but I always like to cook it before eating when I am not sure about the quality of the meat. When I was a kid, I remember how my family made preserved meat during the festival when we had an abundant supply of fresh meat. We would give Som Nuer as gifts to our relatives and friends, and it’s such a beautiful tradition.


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