Easy Vegan Papaya Salad

Thai papaya salad

Rick Poon / Getty Images

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 2 to 3 servings

Thai papaya salad, also called som tum or som tam, is a fun and spicy side dish. Although in Thai cuisine, papaya salad is a pescetarian dish usually made with fish sauce and shrimp, this vegan som tum recipe has plenty of flavor as well. It uses soy sauce instead of fish sauce, and you won't miss the shrimp with all the other fantastically textured ingredients, including green beans, cherry tomatoes, and roasted peanuts for some crunch. 

Westerners usually think of papaya as a soft, ripe and orangey colored tropical fruit, but this dish is made with unripened green papaya, which is firm, green on the outside and pale yellow on the inside. You may need to stop by an Asian grocer in order to find green papaya, but don't try making this recipe with ripe papaya; it won't work.


  • 2 cups firm green papaya (grated, not including the skin)
  • 1/4 cup green beans (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup carrots (grated)
  • 1/4 cup cabbage (sliced into thin strips)
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 8 to 10 cherry tomatoes (sliced in half)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 or 2 small Thai green or red chilis (minced)
  • 1 tsp. lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. raw sugar (or 1 tsp. agave nectar)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. roasted peanuts
  • Optional: lettuce

Steps to Make It

  1. Combine all ingredients, except peanuts and toss well. Mash together with a mortar and pestle, if possible. Chill for at least 2 hours if you have the time. 

  2. Add peanuts and serve cold on a bed of lettuce if you'd like.