Green Papaya Salad, known in Thai as Som Tam is the #1 most popular salad in Thailand. It is low in calories and fat, but very high in taste and satisfaction. This salad is crunchy and delicious, whether served as a side dish, appetizer, or as the main course. Cooked shrimp or crab meat can be added (or cashews if vegetarian), or eat it as they do in Thailand: with a bowl of sticky rice.
Som Tam Recipe
What You Will Need:
- 1 small papaya - green, unripe, firm
- 1 clove garlic - minced
- 1 red chili pepper - sliced, seeds removed; to taste
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce - or soy sauce for vegetarians
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil - light-tasting; not olive oil
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 5 green beans
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes - cut in half
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 3 spring onions - sliced into matchstick-like pieces
- 1/4 cup basil - fresh
- 1/2 cup peanuts - or cashews; roasted
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 2 Tbsp mild vegetable oil
- 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 red chili pepper
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 Tbsp fish sauce - vegetarians substitute 4 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp shrimp paste - OR vegetarians substitute 1 tsp ground bean sauce* OR Vegetarian Stir Fry Sauce (Lee Kum Kim brand is good)
How To Make Som Tam:
- Peel the green papaya.
- Using the largest grater you have (such as one for scalloped potatoes), grate the green fruit,
- rotating it as you go to avoid hitting the inner seeds.
- If you don’t have a grater, try a method used in Thailand using a large, sharp knife. Deeply score the flesh, then run your knife just under the surface to release shreds.
- Slice the green beans into segments and add them to the chopper or processor.
- Pulse to lightly chop and bruise the beans. In Thailand, the beans are pounded to bruise them, but this method works just as well.
- Place the shredded papaya in a large salad bowl, holding back some of the basil for a garnish.
- Add the chili dressing, onions, sprouts tomatoes and beans and toss.
- Add the nuts and toss again.
- Test for taste and adjust the salad’s flavor as desired.
- If you’d like a more intense flavor or extra saltiness, add an extra splash of fish or soy sauce.
- More chili can be added to make it spicier.
- If it’s too sour, sprinkle a little white sugar over your salad and toss to mix (the sugar will melt in a minute or two).
Method For The Dressing:
- Process in food process until the liquid turns reddish from the chili.
- *Note that you need quite a lot of sweetness for this salad in order to balance out the sharpness of the papaya and the lime juice. The dressing should taste sweet with tones of spicy, sour, and salty.
- *Fish sauce, shrimp paste, ground bean sauce and vegetarian stir-fry sauce are all available by the bottle/jar at Asian food stores.
- *Ground bean sauce is a salty, dark brown sauce made from soy beans.
- Serve your salad as is or as a side dish to any Thai entree. If this is your main course, try serving it with a side of sticky rice like they do in Thailand.