Thai Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

4.56 from 9 votes

This light and refreshing Thai Green Papaya Salad Recipe (Som Tam Thai) tastes just like the one you tasted at one of the restaurants in Thailand. Check out my post for many tips and tricks to make this the most authentic way in your kitchen (it can be easily made vegan and gluten-free).

Green papaya salad served in a bowl.
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About Thai Green Papaya Salad

Thai Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam Thai) is a popular classic Thai salad 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 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 one at home.

A popular food on the streets of Bangkok, this Thai Papaya Salad is light on the stomach and can be topped with chicken or shrimp for a full meal.

I often serve it on the side with my comforting Thai curry and jasmine rice meal.

This recipe can be easily made vegan and gluten-free. Double or triple the recipe if you are making it for a gathering.

Note – This salad is traditionally made in a large clay mortar or a large wooden mortar. The dressing and veggies are added to the mortar and pounded lightly before serving.

Here are some more salad recipes that you may like

Ingredients And Variations

Thai papaya salad ingredients 1
Thai green papaya salad ingredients 2

Vegetables – You will need green unripened papaya, carrots, yard-long beans (or green beans), cilantro (fresh coriander leaves), and moong bean sprouts.

If green papaya is unavailable in your regular grocery store, check out the Asian grocery stores near you. They will have it stoked.

When you select green (unripe) papaya, make sure it is dark, solid green, and very firm to the 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 has a mild flavor, even milder than cucumbers.

Traditionally, yard-long beans are used to make this papaya salad but green beans are also great.

Peanuts – Crushed roasted peanuts add a crunch and bite to any recipe, and I love how well they come together with the other ingredients of this salad.

Dried shrimp – Chopped dried shrimp (or shrimp paste) gives a unique flavor to this salad and is traditionally added to this recipe. I am not a fan of dried shrimp, so I did not include them, but you must add a tablespoon of chopped dried shrimp for a traditional taste.

Dressing – The dressing for this papaya salad is made with simple ingredients such as garlic, Thai red chilies, oil, freshly squeezed lime juice, dark soy sauce, fish sauce, palm sugar (or brown sugar, coconut sugar), and salt.

Use any cooking oil like canola oil, light olive oil, sesame oil, etc.

If Thai chilies are not easily available, use red pepper flakes instead.

Use freshly squeezed lime juice for the best taste.

You can replace the lime juice with lemon juice or 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 other vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, green onions, zucchini, snow peas, and bell peppers. It won’t be traditional but 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

Preparation

Cut the green papaya and carrot into thin juliennes. You can get this Julienne peeler from Amazon.

Roast the peanuts in an oven or a skillet over the stovetop.

Cut beans into 1-inch pieces.

Juice 1-2 limes, mince garlic, and finely chop bird-eye chilies and cilantro.

Gather the remaining ingredients.

Make The Dressing

Stir together

  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed 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
  • ½ teaspoon salt

in a small bowl to make the dressing.

Dressing ingredients added to a bowl.
Mixed well.

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.

Green papaya and carrot julienned added to ice water.

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, not to dilute the dressing.

Shredded papaya and carrot drained on a plate lined with kitchen towel.

Add 2-3 chopped long beans (or 4-5 green beans) to a large mortar and pestle, and gently bruise them.

Bruised green beans.

Transfer the papaya and carrot to a large mixing bowl along with

  • bruised beans
  • ½ cup moong bean sprouts
  • ¼ cup crushed toasted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoon chopped cilantro

and toss well.

Papaya and carrot transferred to a large bowl.
Beans, bean sprouts, crushed peanuts and cilantro added to the bowl.
Dressing poured over the salad.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well to coat the vegetables with the dressing.

Dressing poured over the salad.

Check for salt and add more if needed.

Refrigerate the salad for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Ready Thai green papaya salad.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to shred papaya for papaya salad?

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 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 is my favorite 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.

How to toast peanuts?

Spread the raw peanuts on a baking tray and toast them at 350°F (175°C) in a preheated oven for 15-18 minutes until 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 frequently.

Is green papaya salad healthy?

Green papaya salad is generally considered a healthy dish as it is low in fat and calories and a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, the amount of fish sauce and sugar used in the dressing can vary, affecting its nutritional content.

Is green papaya salad spicy?

Yes, green papaya salad can be quite spicy, as it usually contains chili peppers. However, the level of spiciness can be adjusted to taste by varying the amount of chili peppers used in the recipe.

Serving Suggestions

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.

You can even serve it as a side dish with your Thai meals. I like to serve it with my Thai Red Curry, Thai Green Curry, Thai Chicken Panang Curry, and Salmon Panang Curry along with Jasmine Rice.

This salad also makes for a great snack or quick bite between meals or whenever 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.

Storage Suggestions

Papaya salad tastes best when made fresh. It loses its crunchiness when stored.

But if you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container and refrigerate for 1-2 days. Top with some roasted crushed peanuts before serving.

You Might Also Like

This light and refreshing Thai Green Papaya Salad Recipe (Som Tam Thai) tastes just like the one you tasted at one of the restaurants in Thailand. Check out my post for many tips and tricks to make this the most authentic way in your kitchen (it can be easily made vegan and gluten-free).
4.56 from 9 votes

Easy Thai Green Papaya Salad Recipe (Som Tam)

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.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Refrigerating Time: 15 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 2 people

Ingredients 

For The Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons oil (use any cooking 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 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)
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Instructions 

Make The Dressing

  • Stir together 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, peanuts, 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.
  • Refrigerate the salad for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Notes

Double or triple the recipe if you are making it for a gathering.
Chopped dried shrimp 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.
If Thai chilies are not easily available, use red pepper flakes instead.
For a vegan papaya salad, 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.
I used this julienne peeler from Amazon; you could also buy the same.

Nutrition

Calories: 349kcal, Carbohydrates: 32g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 24g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Sodium: 690mg, Potassium: 691mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 19g, Vitamin A: 6872IU, Vitamin C: 121mg, Calcium: 83mg, Iron: 2mg
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Recipe Rating




2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is such a delicious salad! My cousin made this salad for us once and this replicates it perfectly! I’m making it for a family gathering again today!

  2. 5 stars
    The recipe was so easy to follow and turned out absolutely amazing ! My first time making this salad and I can’t believe it now that I haven’t made it sooner.