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Mountain of som tam - papaya salad on a bed of greens from the front.
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5 from 3 votes

papaya salad - som tam thai

Som tam is a bright, fresh salad that goes really well with grilled chicken
Prep Time20 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Thai
Keyword: papaya salad, som tam
Servings: 4
Calories: 159kcal
Author: romain | glebekitchen


  • mortar and pestle


  • 3 cups green papaya julienned
  • 3 long beans cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces.
  • 5-6 cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 1-2 Thai red chilies chopped. Cut out the white membrane if you want to cut the heat but want to keep the flavour.
  • 2 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar finely chopped
  • 1 small lime cut in half lengthwise. Cut one half into 3 pieces. Use the other one to juice into the salad dressing.
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dried shrimp small ones or large ones coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp tamarind paste not the same as that concentrate stuff
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp roasted peanuts chopped
  • a bit of red onion to garnish (optional)


  • Prep your papaya. Peel it. Julienne it with a knife or use one of those Thai julienne slicers. Put the shredded papaya in a bowl of cold water and set aside while you prep the dressing.
  • Add the garlic and chilies to a mortar. Pound until it forms a really coarse paste. Add the palm sugar and keep pounding to get the sugar to fully dissolve.
  • Add the long beans and beat them up a bit. You want them to break a bit. You don't want to beat them into nothing. Just open them up so some of the dressing gets into the beans.
  • Squeeze the 3 lime wedges into the mortar. Toss the squeezed wedges in as well. Add the shrimp. Pound lightly. Again, you aren't trying to destroy what's in the mortar at this point.
  • Add the fish sauce, juice from the remaining half lime and tamarind paste and stir to mix.
  • Drain the papaya. Transfer the contents of the mortar to a metal bowl (one that can take a bit of a pounding from the pestle. Add the papaya. Toss to combine the papaya with the dressing. Gently bruise the papaya with a pestle.
  • Add the tomatoes and give them a bit of a bash with the pestle. Add the peanuts. Toss to combine everything together. Use your hands. That works way better. Just remember to rinse them. There's hot chili in the mix. You don't want that in your eyes.
  • Serve, juice and all. Garnish with a bit of red onion for looks if you like. The red onion is not authentic. I just like the way it looks.


Kiwi brand julienne slicers are how you get the finely shredded pieces you see at Vietnamese and Thai restaurants. I am not a gadget fan. I do not derive any benefit from mentioning brand names. In fact, I'm pretty strongly opposed to doing it. But I'm doing it here. Because I love my little slicer. Ask for it at your local Asian grocer. It costs $5 and it takes up no room in the kitchen.


Calories: 159kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 63mg | Sodium: 784mg | Potassium: 406mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 1209IU | Vitamin C: 91mg | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 1mg