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Thai Green Papaya Salad ("Som Tam")

User Rating 4 Star Rating (5 Reviews)


Green papaya salad
Maren Caruso/Digital Vision/Getty Images
This green papaya salad, also known as "som tam", is popular the world over, and when you taste 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 beautifully unique and flavor-filled dish that will make a great impression. It's also easy to make, low-calorie, and very nutritious. So try this Som tam recipe for dinner tonight!

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total 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
  • optional: cooked baby shrimp OR cubed fried tofu
  • 1/2 tsp. shrimp paste OR substitute 1 Tbsp. fish sauce OR soy sauce for vegetarians
  • 2 Tbsp. good-tasting vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce OR soy sauce for vegetarians
  • 3 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 to 1 Tbsp. liquid honey, to taste
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. chili flakes or cayenne pepper, to taste


About Green Papaya: You may be able to find an 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. For more on buying and preparing green papaya (photo instructions), see: How to Make Authentic Thai Green Papaya Salad.

  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. Place in a large bowl.
  3. Add sliced tomato, spring onion, chili/cayenne, bean sprouts, green beans (if using), shrimp or tofu (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 serving 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.

User Reviews

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 5 out of 5
As good as in Thai restauarants!, Member Ceciliarose

I love to order Thai green papaya salad in Thai restauarants and never thought it could be as good at home - this one is! I used brown sugar instead of honey (didn't have any). Made it without any of the optional ingredients and it was wonderful. My sister and I ate a huge bowl in just one sitting. Thanks!

22 out of 23 people found this helpful.

See all 5 reviews

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