Som Tam Recipe: An Easy 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
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
666 Calories
19g Fat
106g Carbs
28g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 666
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 2g 11%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 768mg 33%
Total Carbohydrate 106g 39%
Dietary Fiber 30g 105%
Protein 28g
Calcium 392mg 30%
*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 frequently done in Thailand.

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

Ingredients

  • 1 small papaya (green, unripe, firm)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1 red chile 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
  • Optional: white sugar (if needed for taste)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil (divided for garnish)
  • 1/2 cup peanuts (or cashews, roasted, divided for garnish)
  • Garnish: 3 spring onions (sliced into matchstick-like pieces)

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
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  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
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  4. If you don't have a grater, try a method used in Thailand using a large, sharp knife by deeply scoring the flesh.

    Or use a knife
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  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 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 chili. Set this salad dressing aside. 

    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
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  8. Place the shredded papaya and the vegetables 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
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  9. Add most of the nuts, holding some back to be used for garnish, and toss again.

    Add the nuts
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  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 spring onions, basil, and roasted peanuts.

    Garnish with green onions and basil
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  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 most supermarkets and 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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