International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Som Tam

Som Tam (Thai green papaya salad)

(Thai green papaya salad)

Image Creative Commons by sflaw

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Green papaya salad is the most popular salad in Thailand and is commonly sold in street stalls, especially in the North of the country. This refreshingly tart and healthy salad is traditionally made in a mortar (som tam means "sour pounded"), but this recipe uses a more Western-kitchen-friendly method.

Often spelled som tum. Called tam mak hoong in Laos.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • Green (unripe) papaya (see note) -- 1 (about 1 pound)
  • Garlic, minced -- 2 cloves
  • Thai red chilies, minced -- 2
  • Palm or brown sugar -- 2 tablespoons
  • Dried shrimp (optional) -- 2 teaspoons
  • Lime juice -- 2 tablespoons
  • Fish sauce -- 2 tablespoons
  • Long beans or green beans, cooked and cut int 1-inch lengths -- 1/2 cup
  • Tomatoes, seeded and chopped -- 1/2 cup
  • Roasted, chopped peanuts -- 1/4 cup

Method

  1. Peel the papaya and cut it in half. Scoop out any seeds and the white coating on the inside of the seed cavity. Using the large holes of a grater or the julienne attachment of a food mandoline, grate or julienne the papaya.
  2. Add the garlic, chiles, palm or brown sugar, dried shrimp, lime juice and fish sauce to a large bowl and mix together to dissolve the sugar. Taste, and adjust seasonings. You want a nice balance of sour, sweet, salty and spicy.
  3. Add the beans and tomatoes and stir them into the sauce, pressing down on them lightly to slightly bruise the beans and release the tomato's juice.
  4. Add the papaya, toss well and adjust seasoning. Garnish with the peanuts and serve chilled or at room temperature with a side of sticky rice.

Som Tam Variations

  • Green Papaya: You must use green, unripe papaya for this recipe. Green papayas can usually be found in Asian markets and in many Latin markets. It has a texture similar to cucumber and a lightly tart flavor.
  • Other Additions: Try substituting julienne green mango, peeled, grated and squeezed cucumbers, grated carrots or finely shredded cabbage for some of the green papaya if you like.
  • Vegetarian Som Tam: Eliminate the dried shrimp. Substitute soy sauce for the fish sauce.
  • Some recipes call for tamarind juice instead of lemon juice.

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