The absolutely delicious papaya salad “Som Tam” is one of the best known and most popular Thai dishes. It is a salad of crisp, green papaya, which perfectly combines the four types of flavors (spicy, sweet, sour and salty). Because it combines sour limes with sweet papaya and palm sugar, fruity tomatoes and spicy chili with salty soy sauce. And the peanuts provide the necessary crunch. But watch out: This Thai salad not only looks incredibly spicy, it is too!
For Som Tam you use the unripe, green papaya. In Thai language “Som” means “sour” and “Tam” means “push”. That is because you use a large clay mortar with wooden plunger for the production. As a result, the various ingredients and flavors combine evenly with each other.
The papaya salad originated from Laos. It was brought to the northeast of Thailand by immigrants and from there to Bangkok.
Caution dear fellow vegans: The original recipe contains shrimp or fermented fish. So be sure to ask for a vegan version when ordering this dish in a restaurant. This recipe is the vegan version that we got to know in Thailand at Mai Kaidee’s vegan cooking class.
Thai people eat papaya salad almost every day. It is usually served together with sticky rice to soften the spiciness a little bit.
Ingredients for Thai Papaya Salat
You will find the ingredients like the unripe papaya and the long beans in any Asian shop. Before grating the papaya you should hollow it out, because the white seeds on the inside are very bitter and are not used for this recipe.
If you cannot find an unripe green papaya, you can also work with the least ripe, hard papaya you can find and instead of long beans you could use princess beams or rye beans. But you have to cook them, because these beans are poisonous when eaten raw. Only long beans can be eaten raw.
If you are keen to experiment, you can also substitute the papaya completely and use shredded parsnip, zucchini or firm cucumber as an alternative. The most important component in this salad is not the papaya, but the sauce.
Thai papaya salat can also be used as a filling for this fresh thai spring rolls.
Thai Papaya Salad
- 1-2 red chiles
- 1 hand full long beans alternatively string beans or green beans
- 6 cherry tomatoes
- 1 tbsp garlic
- 2 tbsp roasted peanuts alternatively cashews
- 4 tbsp lime juice
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp cane sugar
- 1/4 green papaya
- 1 carrot
- Cut long beans into 3 cm (1 inch) long pieces. If you use other beans, you have to cook them for 10 minutes in salt water. Long beans can be used raw.
- Dice tomatoes. Finely chop chilies and garlic. Cut the papaya lengthwise in half and remove the seeds. Cut the papaya and carrot into very fine strips or julienne. In Thailand they use a special strip peeler for this.
- In a large mortar, mix the chilies, green beans, tomatoes, garlic and peanuts and lightly crush them.
- Add lime juice, soy sauce and sugar to the mortar and mix. Add the papaya and carrot and mix well with the sauce.
If you liked this recipe for Thai Papaya Salad you may also like one of these other Thai recipes:
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