Som Tam is probably one of the best known dishes from Thai cuisine, thanks to the fact that it finds a place on the menu of almost every Pan-Asian restaurant. Its popularity is richly deserved too – it is a dish that is bursting with flavours after all!
If you have never been introduced to Som Tam before, let me do the honour. 🙂 It is a beautiful Thai salad made using green (i.e. raw/unripe) papaya. Sweet and sour and spicy all at once, this juicy salad is a definite treat to the tastebuds. With summer enveloping us, now is the perfect time to try out this salad!
In today’s post, I am going to share with you all the recipe for Som Tam, the way I make it, inspired by our travels to Thailand. Mine is a vegetarian recipe, made using ingredients readily available in India. This salad is super easy to put together, and can be customised to your family’s taste preferences or dietary requirements. It is gluten-free in itself and can be made vegan/plant-based too (see the Tips & Tricks section).
Ingredients used in Som Tam or Thai Green Papaya Salad
Som Tam is made using unripe papaya. A small one should yield enough salad to serve 3-4 people.
Peanuts are roasted till crisp and flavourful, then crushed coarsely and mixed with grated raw papaya. This provides a ‘crunch’ factor to the salad.
I have used honey to add sweetness, in this recipe, while chilli flakes have been used for the spice kick, in place of which finely chopped green chillies can also be used. I use some ginger too, to add a fresh fragrance and flavour to the salad.
The sourness in this recipe comes from lemon juice, which also adds a gorgeous smell to the salad in conjunction with the coriander leaves that are also used.
Thai Green Papaya Salad recipe
Here’s how to go about making this lovely salad.
Ingredients (serves 3-4):
1. 1 small green (raw) papaya
2. 1/4 cup peanuts
3. A 1-inch piece of ginger (optional)
4. Salt to taste
5. 2 teaspoons red chilli flakes or to taste
6. 2 tablespoons of honey or to taste
7. Juice of 1 lemon or to taste
8. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
1. Cut the green papaya into halves. Scrape out the seeds and peel the two halves.
2. In a heavy-bottomed pan, dry roast the peanuts on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till they turn crisp. Take care to ensure that the peanuts do not burn. When done, transfer the roasted peanuts to a plate and let them cool down completely.
3. Now, grate the raw papaya into a large mixing bowl. Keep the shavings thick. Remove the hard bits, if any.
4. Peel the ginger, if using. Grate it finely and add to the mixing bowl.
5. Add salt to taste.
6. Add in the red chilli flakes, followed by the honey.
7. Add in the lemon juice.
8. Transfer the roasted and cooled peanuts to a mixer jar. Pulse a couple of times to coarsely crush the peanuts. Add this to the mixing bowl.
9. Mix everything well together. Transfer to a serving bowl or plate. Serve the Som Tam Salad immediately, garnished with the finely chopped coriander.
Other Thai recipes on the blog
Thai cuisine is a big favourite with everyone at our place, and I have quite a few recipes for the same on the blog. All of these recipes are vegetarian and made using ingredients that are locally available.
You should check out these Thai recipes:
- Khao Phad| Thai Fried Rice
- Som Tam Mamuang| Thai Raw Mango Salad
- Thai Carrot Salad
- Thai Grapefruit Salad
- Sriracha Pineapple
- Thai Green Vegetable Curry
- Thai Tom Yum Vegetable Soup
- Millet Vermicelli Salad, Thai Style
- Khao Yum| Thai Jasmine Rice Salad
- Tom Kha| Vegetarian Thai Coconut Soup
- Pad Thai| Vegetarian Thai Noodles
- Kaeng Phanaeng| Vegetarian Thai Penang Curry
- Thai Yellow Vegetable Curry
- Thai Sticky Rice With Mango
Tips & Tricks
1. Use a green papaya that is nice and firm. The one I used had a couple of ripening spots, which is why the colour of the salad is reddish.
2. The peanuts should be well roasted, for the salad to be flavourful. Remember to only crush them coarsely and not make a fine powder.
3. Adjust the quantities of salt, chilli flakes, honey and lemon juice as per personal taste preferences.
4. Green chillies can be used instead of the red chilli flakes I have used here. In that case, chop them up really fine so you don’t get big pieces of chilli while eating the salad.
5. Jaggery powder, coconut jaggery or palm jaggery can be used in place of the honey I have used here. This will make the Som Tam Salad vegan (plant-based) too.
6. The ginger is optional, but I would highly recommend using it. It adds a beautiful fresh flavour to the salad.
7. Here, I have used a small mixer jar to coarsely crush the roasted peanuts. You can use a mortar and pestle to do the same. There’s no need to remove the peel from the peanuts.
8. Traditionally, Som Tam Salad is made using shrimp paste and/or oyster sauce. A dash of soya sauce can be added instead, as a vegetarian substitute. This is not strictly necessary, though, as the salad tastes lovely even without the soya sauce.
9. Serve the salad immediately after preparation. Letting it sit around will make it watery.
10. Here, I have grated the raw papaya thickly. You may julienne it if you so please.
Do you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!