Papaya Salad (Som Tam Thai)

Papaya Salad (Som Tam Thai)

Made with green papayas, this is a classic Thai dish that is delicious and refreshing! You can also find variations of this salad done with green mango or carrots which makes it a versatile dish great for making at home. If you order Som Tam in a Thai restaurant be sure to specify the heat level you can manage as it can be very spicy!


  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-2 Thai Bird’s Eye chillies (or half, for mild spiciness)
  • 5 cherry tomatoes, or 1 medium one, sliced
  •  2-3 string beans cut into 2.5 cm pieces
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce (or soy sauce for vegetarian)
  • 1/2 Tbsp palm sugar
  • 2 Tbsp of lime juice
  • 1/2 Tbsp of small, dried shrimps (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp of roasted peanuts
  • A heaping handful (about 100-150g) of shredded green papaya
  •  Cabbage and a couple of string beans to serve on the side.


  1. In a clay mortar (as opposed to a heavy stone mortar, which will easily reduce your salad to a pulp) and wooden pestle, coarsely crush garlic and chillies. NOTE: The more you crush the chilli the spicier your dish will be. If you prefer less spicy, crush the chilli coarsely and then remove from the mortar and set aside. Add again when you have mixed all the other ingredients.
  2. Add string beans and dried shrimps, pound until the beans are just crushed.
  3. Add peanuts and lightly crush them.
  4. Add palm sugar and work to gently incorporate.
  5. Add tomatoes, fish sauce, and lime juice. Gently bruise the tomatoes and press around the mortar to mix everything together. Make sure the palm sugar is completely dissolved.
  6. Add papaya. With the pestle in one (left) hand and a big spoon in the other (right hand), gently bruise the salad while alternately using the spoon to flick the ingredients from the bottom of the mortar to mix everything together thoroughly.
  7. Plate up and serve with cabbage wedges and string beans.