Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

Real Thai Green Papaya Salad!

D.Schmidt

  • Total: 30 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: serves 4+
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
241 Calories
6g Fat
44g Carbs
11g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: serves 4+
Amount per serving
Calories 241
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 7%
Saturated Fat 1g 4%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1011mg 44%
Total Carbohydrate 44g 16%
Dietary Fiber 6g 22%
Protein 11g
Calcium 292mg 22%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam) is the most popular salad in Thailand and is especially loved by Thai women–perhaps because it's low in calories and fat, but very high in taste and eating satisfaction, helping you stay slim. This salad recipe is crunchy-delicious, whether served as a side dish/appetizer or as the main course. Cooked shrimp or crab meat can be added (or cashews for vegetarians) or try eating it as they do in Thailand: with a bowl of sticky rice. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 green papaya (see buying instructions below)
  • 1- 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1/2 English cucumber (sliced into matchstick-like pieces)
  • 2 tomatoes (cut into thin wedges or strips)
  • 3 green onions (cut into matchstick-like pieces)
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts (ground or chopped)
  • Optional: 3/4 to 1 cup cooked shrimp (or crab meat; if vegetarian: add 1/2 to 1 cup fried tofu)
  • For the Dressing:
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce (or 4 Tbsp. soy sauce if vegetarian)
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp. liquid honey (to taste)
  • 1 tsp. shrimp paste (or 1 tsp. ground bean sauce if vegetarian)
  • 1 to 2 Thai red chilies (or 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili)

Steps to Make It

For step-by-step recipe instructions, see how to make Green Papaya Salad.

Shopping tip: For this salad, you can try looking for very green papaya at your grocery store (either two Hawaiian papayas or one Caribbean type). However, we recommend buying one at an Asian store, simply because it's hard to tell whether a papaya is actually green or in one of the stages of ripening. Asian stores and markets sell green papayas labeled as such. Sometimes they are even sliced open so you can see it is green inside (the seeds will be white).

At this point, Thai cooks perform an optional step, bashing the shredded papaya with a pestle to bring out the juice. Another way is to place the shredded papaya in a food processor and pulse briefly.

  1. Stir all dressing ingredients together. This dressing should be tangy–a combination of sweet, sour, spicy and salty, but more sweet than sour (this will help balance out the sharpness of the papaya).

  2. Slice the papaya in half lengthwise and crack it open. Scrape out the seeds and discard. Then turn over each half and peel off the green skin.

  3. Use a large-size grater to grate the papaya or shred it as they do in Thailand: simply make many long cuts into the flesh, then thinly slice off the top layer into a bowl.

  4. Combine the green papaya with all the other salad ingredients in a large bowl, reserving the peanuts and half the fresh basil for toppings. Pour over the dressing and toss well.

  5. Taste-test the salad. If you'd prefer it saltier, add more fish sauce or soy sauce. If you'd prefer it sweeter, drizzle over a little more honey. Toss again.

  6. Portion out into bowls and top with the ground peanuts plus reserved basil. Enjoy!

Serving suggestion: In Thailand, Green Papaya Salad is nearly always eaten with a side of sticky rice or coconut rice. To make sticky rice, see How to Make Sticky Rice (stovetop recipe) OR Easy Sticky Rice Recipe (made in a rice cooker). To make coconut rice, see Coconut Rice (stovetop recipe) OR Coconut Rice (in a rice cooker).

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