Thai Papaya Salad

October 29, 2012 0 Comments

Thai Papaya Salad

Thai Green Papaya Salad aka "Som Tam"


Depending on what part of Thailand you are at you'll find a different recipe for Som Tam. Some recipes call for seafood or fish and some have more spice than others. This is our take at Herbal Papaya.

This green papaya salad, also known as "som tam", is popular the world over, and when you taste the flavors of it you'll know why. The slightly tart flavor of the green papaya combines wonderfully with the spice of red chili and the saltiness of fish sauce and the sweetness of honey (note that it can also be made vegetarian/vegan - see recipe).

Green papaya salad is a wonderfully unique and flavor-filled dish that will make a great entrance to any meal or as a meal in itself. It's also easy to make, low-calorie, and very nutritious. So try this Som tam recipe for today.

Prep time: 30 minutes ---- Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish



  • 1 small green papaya, OR 1/2 large (see recipe)

  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts or cashews

  • 2 cups bean sprouts

  • 1 to 2 tomatoes, cut into thin wedges or long strips

  • 3 spring onions, cut into long matchstick-like pieces

  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, leaves left whole or chopped

  • handful

    of fresh coriander

  • 1 red chili, sliced, seeds removed (reduce or omit, to taste)

  • optional: 1 cup blanched green beans


  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce OR coconut aminos (soy sauce) for vegetarians

  • 2 Tbsp. good-tasting oil (peanut, coconut, walnut, sunflower)

  • 3 Tbsp. lime juice

  • 1/2 to 1 Tbsp. liquid honey or agave (for vegans), to taste

  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. chili flakes or cayenne pepper, to taste


About Green Papaya: You may be able to find unripe papaya in your local supermarket - it should have greenish-orange to green skin. If not, the best place is an Asian food store or market. It should be firm on the outside; inside flesh will be white to light orange. 


  1. Stir all 'Dressing' ingredients together in a cup. Make sure shrimp paste and honey dissolve fully. Taste-test for sweetness and spice, adding more honey or chili to taste. Set aside.
  2. Use a sharp knife to peel the green papaya, then slice it in half and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Using the largest grater you have, grate the papaya, or you can use a potato peeler to create thin, ribbon-like strips. Vegetable slices also work. Place in a large bowl & set aside.
  3. Add sliced tomato, spring onion, chili/cayenne, bean sprouts, green beans (if using), and most of the basil. Pour over the dressing, tossing well to combine.
  4. Add nuts and toss again. Taste-test the salad. If not sweet enough, add a little more honey or a sprinkling of sugar. If not flavorful enough, add a little more fish sauce or soy sauce. If too sweet or salty, add more lime juice. Add more chili for a spicier salad.
  5. To serve, scoop into individual bowls or onto salad plates. Top with remaining basil leaves plus fresh coriander and a sprinkling of more nuts. Serve immediately and ENJOY!

Make Ahead Tip: If you wish to make this salad ahead of time, combine all ingredients except the nuts and the dressing. You can then leave it covered in the refrigerator several hours, or overnight. Add the dressing and peanuts at the last minute, then toss and serve.

Herbal Goodness
Herbal Goodness


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