Som Tam: Thai Green Papaya Salad

Som Tam - Thai Green Papaya Salad Recipe

The Spruce / Teena Agnel

Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
186 Calories
8g Fat
29g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 186
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 723mg 31%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 11%
Dietary Fiber 7g 25%
Total Sugars 18g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 58mg 291%
Calcium 110mg 8%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 541mg 12%
*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.)

Som Tam is a popular Thai salad featuring green papaya and a spicy chile pepper dressing. The multitude of flavors from this salad explode in your mouth—sweet, tart, crunchy, and a touch of spiciness—the perfect side dish or a light entree.

Traditionally, Som Tam is pounded with a mortar and pestle, which can be fun at times. However, it's also messy and a lot of work. To make this tasty green papaya salad much easier to toss together, simply turn to your handy food processor or chopper. This Thai recipe was adapted for that modern convenience and there is very little difference in the taste.

Top it with shrimp or chicken for a full meal or eat it with sticky rice as is frequently done in Thailand.

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Click Play to See This Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam Thai) Recipe Come Together

"Spicy, cooling, crunchy, tangy, sweet Som Tam or Thai Green Papaya Salad is an exciting way to try familiar ingredients like papaya in new ways (using it unripened). This Thai salad hits all flavor notes with just the right amount of heat." —Diana Andrews

Som Tam: Thai Green Papaya Salad Recipe Test
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 1 small green, unripe papaya (about 2 pounds)

  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced

  • 1 small red chile pepper, such as Thai bird, seeded and finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce, or soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 5 large green beans

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 2 cups bean sprouts

  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped Thai or Italian basil, for garnish

  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts or cashews, for garnish

  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar, optional

  • 3 medium scallions, thinly sliced lengthwise

  • Sticky rice for serving, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Som Tam Thai Green Papaya Salad
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  2. Peel the green papaya.

    Peel the green papaya
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  3. 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.

    Grate the papaya
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  4. If you don't have a grater, try a method used in Thailand: First, deeply score the flesh using a large, sharp knife.

    Or use a knife
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  5. Then, run your knife just under the surface to release the shreds.

    Run your knife over papaya
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  6. In a small food chopper or processor, add the garlic, chile pepper, fish sauce, oil, lime juice, and brown sugar. Process until the liquid turns reddish from the chile. Set this salad dressing aside. 

    Alternatively, pound the garlic and chile into a fine paste with a mortar and pestle or with the back of a knife. Transfer to a small bowl, add the fish sauce, oil, lime juice, and brown sugar, and whisk to combine.

    Add ingredients in food processor
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  7. 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.

    Slice the green beans
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  8. Place the shredded papaya, cherry tomatoes, and bean sprouts in a large salad bowl. Add most of the basil, holding back some to be used as a garnish. Add the chile dressing and beans and toss.

    Place in bowl
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  9. Add most of the peanuts, holding some back to be used for garnish, and toss again.

    Add the nuts
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  10. 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 chile 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). 

    Test for taste
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  11. Garnish with the scallions, and the remaining basil and peanuts.

    Garnish with green onions and basil
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  12. 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.

    Serve your salad
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Tips

  • You can find green (unripe) papaya in Southeast Asian markets.

Recipe Variation

  • Although raw green beans are part of this dish, some people find them hard to digest. Feel free to skip those if you like.

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