This light and refreshing Thai Green Papaya Salad Recipe (Som Tam) taste just like the one you tasted at one of the restaurants in Thailand. Check out my post for lots of tips and tricks to make this in the most authentic way in your kitchen (can be easily made vegan and gluten-free).
About This Recipe
Thai Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam) is a popular classic Thai salad that is made using shredded green unripe papaya. This delicious papaya salad has sweet, sour, spicy, and savory flavors going on at the same time.
Som Tam is one of the most popular salads that you will find on the menu of every Thai restaurant, but believe me, this homemade version is even better!
By keeping a few tips and tricks in consideration, you can make a fabulous version at home.
A popular food on the streets of Bangkok, this Thai Papaya Salad is light on the stomach and can also be topped with some chicken or shrimp for a full meal.
I often serve it on the side with my comforting meal of Thai curry and jasmine rice.
This recipe can be easily made vegan and gluten-free. Double or triple the recipe if you are making it for a gathering.
Ingredients & Variations
Vegetables – You will need unripe green papaya, carrots, yard-long beans (or green beans), cilantro (fresh coriander leaves), and moong bean sprouts.
If green papaya is not available in your regular grocery store, then check out the Asian grocery stores near you. They will have it stoked.
When you select green (unripe) papaya, make sure that it is dark solid green in color and is very firm to touch. It should not have any soft patches or black blemishes. When you peel it, the inside fruit should have a pale green color without any patches of pink or orange.
Green papaya is crisp and it has a very mild flavor, even milder than cucumbers.
Traditionally, yard-long beans are used to make this papaya salad but green beans will be great as well.
Peanuts – Crushed roasted peanuts add a crunch and bite to any recipe, and I just love how well they come together with the other ingredients of this salad.
Dried shrimp – Chopped dried shrimp (or shrimp paste) gives a very unique flavor to this salad and they are traditionally added to this recipe. I am personally not a fan of dried shrimp so did not include them but you must definitely add a tablespoon of chopped dried shrimp along with the veggies.
Dressing – The dressing for this papaya salad is made with simple ingredients such as garlic, Thai red chilies, vegetable oil, lime juice, dark soy sauce, fish sauce, palm sugar (or brown sugar, coconut sugar), and salt.
If Thai chilies are not easily available, use red pepper flakes instead.
Use freshly squeezed lemon juice for the best taste.
You can replace the lime juice with tamarind juice.
For a vegan version, skip adding fish sauce and chopped dried shrimp, and to make it gluten-free, replace soy sauce with tamari or coconut aminos.
For a healthier salad, replace brown sugar with honey or maple syrup.
You can use green mango instead of papaya along with carrots, bean sprouts, and green beans.
Add in other vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, green onions, zucchini, snow peas, or bell peppers. It won’t be traditional, but it will be as delicious as the original one.
Shredded cabbage can also be added to this som tum salad.
How to Make Thai Green Papaya Salad
Cut the green papaya and carrot into thin juliennes. You can get this julienne peeler from Amazon.
Roast the peanuts in an oven or in a skillet over the stovetop.
Cut beans into 1-inch pieces.
Juice 1-2 limes, mince garlic, chop bird eye chilies, and cilantro.
Gather the remaining ingredients.
Make The Dressing
Stir together 2 tablespoon vegetable oil, 2 tablespoon lime juice, 2 teaspoon dark soy sauce, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, 2 teaspoon palm sugar, ½ teaspoon minced garlic, 1 finely chopped Thai bird’s eye chili, and ½ teaspoon salt in a small bowl to make the dressing.
Make The Salad
Soak 1 and ½ cups of shredded green papaya and ½ cup of shredded carrot in ice water for 10-15 minutes until they are firmer.
Drain the water and place the shredded papaya and carrots on a plate lined with 2 layers of paper towel to absorb excess water.
You want to have as little water on the papaya and carrot as possible so as to not dilute the dressing.
Add 2-3 chopped long beans (or 4-5 green beans) to a large mortar and pestle and gently bruises them.
Transfer the papaya and carrot to a large mixing bowl along with bruised beans, ½ cup moong bean sprouts, and 2 tablespoon chopped cilantro, and toss well.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well to coat the vegetables with the dressing.
Check for salt and add more if needed.
Sprinkle the crushed toasted peanuts on top and serve immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
Wash the papaya well with water and peel it using a vegetable peeler. Now there are multiple ways in which you can shred the green papaya.
1. Using a knife – Make long cuts in the raw papaya flesh by constantly tapping with a sharp knife, then thinly slice the top layer into the bowl until all the papaya is shredded.
2. Using a julienne peeler – This is my fav way to prepare the papaya for this recipe. Peel the papaya and cut it in half. Remove the seeds using a spoon. Not using a julienne pepper, julienne the papaya. If the juliennes are too long, cut them into smaller pieces.
3. Using a mandoline slicer – Cut the peeled papaya into very thin slices using a mandoline slicer. Stack up the slices and julienne them into thin strips.
Spread the raw peanuts on a baking tray and toast at 350°F (175°C) in a preheated oven for 15-18 minutes until they’re golden and crispy. Stir them halfway through for even roasting.
You can also toast them in a pan on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring very frequently.
Thai green papaya salad is a flavorful salad that can be served on its own for a light and refreshing meal.
It is traditionally served with sticky rice. Take a ball of sticky rice, make a slight indent with your thumb and use it to pinch or scoop up the papaya salad.
This salad also makes for a great snack or quick bite to eat between your meals or whenever the hunger strikes. Just make sure to pack the dressing in a separate box and mix it with the salad when you are ready to relish it.
I often pack it in my lunch boxes too, as it is refreshing to eat on summer afternoons.
Papaya salad tastes best when made fresh. It loses its crunchiness when stored.
But in case you have leftovers, then store them in an airtight container and refrigerate for 1-2 days. Top with some roasted crushed peanuts before serving.
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Thai Green Papaya Salad Recipe (Som Tam)
For The Dressing
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce (skip for vegan)
- 2 teaspoons palm sugar (or brown sugar, coconut sugar)
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 Thai bird's eye chili (finely chopped )
- ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
For The Salad
- 1 and ½ cups shredded green papaya
- ½ cup shredded carrot
- 2-3 long beans (or 4-5 green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces)
- ½ cup moong bean sprouts
- ¼ cup crushed toasted peanuts
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (fresh coriander leaves)
Make The Dressing
- Stir together vegetable oil, lime juice, dark soy sauce, fish sauce, palm sugar, garlic, Thai bird’s eye chili, and salt in a small bowl to make the dressing.
- Soak green papaya and carrot in ice water for 10-15 minutes until they are firmer.
Make The Salad
- Drain the water and place the shredded papaya and carrots on a plate lined with 2 layers of paper towel to absorb excess water.
- You want to have as little water on the papaya and carrot as possible so as to not dilute the dressing.
- Add beans to a large mortar and pestle and gently bruises them.
- Transfer the papaya and carrot to a large mixing bowl along with bruised beans, moong bean sprouts, and cilantro, and toss well.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well to coat the vegetables with the dressing.
- Check for salt and add more if needed.
- Sprinkle the crushed toasted peanuts on top and serve immediately.