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Thai Green Papaya Salad (Som Tum)

  • Author: Suwanee
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Diet: Low Fat


Thai Papaya Salad or “Som Tum” is an extremely flavorful salad made from green, unripe papaya lightly pounded together with garlic, Thai chilies, tomatoes, and green beans. The sweet, tangy, and sour taste comes from fresh lime juice, fish sauce, and palm sugar. 



2 cloves garlic

2-8 Thai chilis

3/4 cups green beans, chopped 1-inch in size

1 Thai eggplant chopped thin 1/2 inch in size (optional)

8 cherry tomatoes

2 Tbsp palm sugar or 1.5 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tbsp dried shrimp

1.5 Tbsp tamarind sauce

2 Tbsp fish sauce

2 slices of lime 1/4 inch each

2 cups shredded green papaya

1/2 cup shredded carrots

¼ cup unsalted peanuts


1.   Prepare the green papaya. Wash, dry with paper towels. You can cut the peeled papaya in half before peeling if it's easier to grip on the fruit with your fingers. 

2. Peel the skin off of the papaya. Peel the papaya with the kiwi peeler and save the rest of the papaya for your second round of papaya salad tomorrow!
3.  In a mortar and pestle, add the garlic and chilis. Also, have a large spoon ready by your side to use for scraping and flipping the ingredients over. DO NOT crush into paste! Only pound enough to lightly break up the pieces.

4. Lightly pound the garlic and chilis. Do not turn it into a paste.

5. Add the Thai eggplants and green beans and roughly pound them with the wooden pestle. Again, do not crush the ingredients too much here, just a slight pounding, enough to slightly bruise the veggies. 

6.  Shave the palm sugar if you are using the round cubes rather than the melted paste. You can actually do this step ahead of time too if you'd like.

7. Add the palm sugar, tomatoes, tamarind sauce, dried shrimp, and 2 slices of lime wedges. Pound together lightly again here using a large spoon to turn and swoosh the ingredients around inside the mortar and pestle so all ingredients get the same amount of pounding to help "marinade in" the flavors.

8. Add the shredded papaya, shredded carrot, fish sauce, and the rest of the lime juice. Lightly pound everything together one last time here, using a large spoon to scoop, turn, and flip the ingredients around to try to get an even amount of pounding.  

9. Taste the finished salad and adjust accordingly, if needed add more sugar, lime juice, or fish sauce and pounding it one last time before serving. Sprinkle crushed peanuts on top before serving if desired. That’s it! Enjoy!

Notes *Thai papaya salad is best enjoyed immediately while all the flavors are still fresh. I do not recommend having any leftovers at all! (: Well, you won't want to anyway, trust me. 


Notes to Step 1: Make sure to scrape out all the seeds before grating as they do not taste pleasant at all if some get in your salad. 

Notes to Step 3:  You can control the spicy ness of your papaya salad here by adding as much or as little chilis as you'd like.

Notes to Step 7: Yes, add the entire lime wedges into the mortar and pestle. The pounding of the rind of the lime will release a slightly undetectable bitter flavor that compliments the sour, sweet and salty flavor of the papaya so very well. Do not eat the rind, you can remove before serving or leave it in the salad just like how they do it in Thailand!

  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 5
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Pounding
  • Cuisine: Thai

Keywords: Thai papaya salad. Papaya salad. Green papaya salad. Thai salad