A Thai salad is often one of the spiciest Thai dishes and is frequently ordered as one of the many communal dishes in a meal.
A Thai salad is generally made of raw vegetables mixed with chili, lime, and fish sauce, though some, such as Yam Neua (Thai beef salad) contain meat. The most internationally recognized Thai salad, Som Tam is technically a dish of Lao origin, and is most popular in Northeastern Thailand, where it is prepared in a manner that would wreak havoc on the stomach of an unsuspecting visitor unaccustomed to real spicy Thai food.
Som Tam consists primarily of shredded papaya and is often served with grilled chicken (gai yang). Yam som-o, is a more mild salad that is based on the pommels, a fruit similar to, but less sour than, a grapefruit. Yam som-o is usually served with shredded chicken. Other salads include Yam Neua, a Thai beef salad served with tomato and onion, and Yam Wonsan, a glass noodle and shrimp salad.
Technically Thai meals don’t include appetizers per se; all dishes are ordered at once and come out in random order for diners to share as they arrive. However, there are certainly finger-food style dishes that can be categorized as appetizer style foods.
Satay (grilled meat on a stick) and spring rolls are the most common of these, the former available on many street corners and technically classified in Thai cuisine as a snack rather than an appetizer.