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Sadao leaves grow on medium-sized trees with small, elongated leaves. The tree bears fragrant white flowers. The leaves are very bitter, and must be boiled so that the bitterness is not overwhelming.
Sadao leaves are available year-round.
Sadao, also known as Thai or Siamese Neem, is a variety of neem. Sadao is botanically classified as Azadirachta indica var. siamensis Valeton, and must not be confused with the Indian neem (Azadirachta indica), which bears red flowers. Sadao trees can commonly be found in the wild in Thailand, and can even be spotted growing along roadsides.
Sadao leaves can be boiled or pickled, and eaten as an accompaniment to other dishes. The pickled leaves are often paired with white fish and tomatoes, and are often accompanied by fish paste or sauce.
Sadao leaves are considered to be a bitter, healthy tonic. Like its relative the Indian neem, Sadao is used to treat skin disorders. As a dish, Sadao leaves are valued for their bitter taste. In Thailand, boiled Sadao leaves are served with grilled catfish and a sweet sauce called nam plaa waan. In neighboring Myanmar, pickled Sadao leaves may be eaten with tomato and fish paste sauce.
Sadao leaves are indigenous to Thailand. They are found throughout Thailand as well as Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia. Most Sadao populations in Thailand are considered to be natural populations, which have spread slowly throughout the region. The trees are perennials, and can grow in even the driest conditions.
Recipes that include Sadao Leaves. One is easiest, three is harder.