Thai Green Papaya Salad – Som Tam ส้มตำ
“Som Tam” (Thai: ส้มตำ) is a very popular spicy Thai salad that is made from green papayas. Originally, Som Tum came from Laos but today this papaya salad is very popular in Isaan and everywhere else in Thailand. As a matter of fact, green papaya salad can be considered the Thai national dish! The basic ingedients for this salad are always the same. However, depending on the region, this salad might be seasoned differently. This papaya salad is most commonly eaten with sticky rice and different crudités (e.g. cucumber, lettuce). “Som Tum” literally means “sour pounded,” which makes sense considering the unripe papaya is kind of sour and to make it, you pound up all the ingredients with a pestle and mortar.
Som Tam Recipe
- 1 green papaya
- 1 large carrot
- 4 cherry tomatoes
- 2-4 TSP peanuts
- 1 pint of salt
- 1-3 fresh red chillies (Prik Kee Noo Daeng) | พริกขี้หนูแดง
- 2 lemons
- 1-3 garlic gloves
- 2 TSP palm sugar
- 1-2 TSP fish sauce
- optional green long beans
- optional dried shrimps
- optional tamarind paste
- optional, you may want to use an appropriate clay mortar for making this salad. If you live in a Western country, you can get such a clay mortar in your local Asian supermarket. However, you can also use a large plastic bowl.
Put the garlic cloves, the chillies and 1TSP peanuts in your clay mortar or bowl and mix them thoroughly together. Then add the fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar. If you want to add tamarind paste you may do this too. Continue mixing and mashing the ingredients together with a pestle until the palm sugar is completely resolved. Wash the green beans and cut them in 2 inch pieces. Put them in the mortar to your other ingredients and continue mash everything together. Peel the papaya and the carrot and cut them with a zick-zack peeler into fine stripes. Wash and cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters.
Put everything together with the rest of the peanuts and continue to mash everything together lightly. Finally, season your papaya salad with some more lime juice, salt and palm sugar. And you’re ready to serve!
The following video by Rin Silpachai demonstrates comprehensively how to make this salad. Check this out, if you feel unsure about the preparation 😉
(P.S. Please check out my Thai Food Dictionary for more information)