Thai Green Papaya Salad – Som Tum – is a popular Thai salad with crunchy green papaya, peanuts, and a tangy sweet-sour dressing! Learn how to make it with lots of step-by-step pictures.
Papaya Salad, called Som Tum in Thai, is one of the most popular and well-known Thai salads. Clearly deserved, as it represents one of the best flavors of Thailand. Thai green papaya salad is a very fresh, crunchy, tangy, healthy, and slightly sour salad that can be enjoyed daily as an appetizer or side dish!
It gets its name from its main ingredient, green papaya. Unripe, meaning green, papaya makes an excellent salad ingredient. Shredded green papaya is almost neutral in flavor and slightly crunchy. Similar to an English cucumber, but somewhat less watery.
Thai Papaya salad is rather quick and easy to prepare. What helps is having a mortar and julienne peeler at hand.
The authentic papaya salad recipe is made with shrimp paste or dried shrimp and fish sauce. In this recipe, you will learn how to make a vegetarian/vegan green papaya salad that tastes just as delicious and intense as the original.
Papaya Salad without Papaya
Green, unripe papaya can often only be found in Asian Shops/Markets and are relatively expensive. However, if you don’t have an Asia Shop nearby, you can replace the green papaya with 1-2 English cucumbers.
The taste of the salad is not identical to the original if using cucumbers, but it’s a proper alternative. So you don’t have to miss out on this delicious Thai salad.
See recipe card for quantities.
- Thai Green Papaya → You can get green papaya at the Asian Market. Slice it with a julienne peeler for the authentic papaya salad shape. The green seeds aren’t edible.
- Thai Long Beans → Extremely long Thai green beans. Available at the Asian Market. Can be omitted.
- Carrot & Cherry Tomatoes
- Peanuts → A must in Thai salads. Provide a nice crunch!
- Garlic, Thai Chili Pepper, Fresh Lime Juice, Soy Sauce, Sugar → These are the dressing ingredients. If you don’t like your salad spicy, omit the chili peppers or reduce to only one. The garlic also infuses some heat in the dressing.
This visual step-by-step instruction will help you along the way – definitely recommended if you’re a cooking beginner!
- Place garlic cloves and chilies in a mortar and pound into a paste. Add brown sugar and Thai long beans, pound again until the sugar is dissolved. Add tomatoes and gently pound. → You can work in batches if your mortar is too small.
- Peel, then cut green papaya and carrot in julienne strips using a julienne peeler.
- Place green papaya and carrot along with the pounded ingredients, lime juice, soy sauce, and half of the crushed peanuts in a large bowl. Toss to combine. → What I learned in Thailand is to pound all ingredients with the pestle in one hand while tossing the ingredients with a spoon in the other hand for about one minute.
- Serve in a large bowl and sprinkle with the remaining peanuts.
Store leftover salad in an airtight container in the fridge. Keeps fresh for one day.
More Asian Recipes You’ll Love
- Vermicelli Noodle Salad
- Thai Cucumber Salad
- Asian Cucumber Salad with Sesame
- Thai Drunken Noodles – Pad Kee Mao
- Vegetarian Pad See Ew
- Vegetarian Pad Thai