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Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

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Green Papaya Salad

Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

D.Schmidt
Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam) is the #1 most popular salad in Thailand, and is especially loved by Thai women - perhaps because it's low in calories and fat, but very high in taste and eating satisfaction, helping you stay slim. This salad recipe is crunchy-delicious, whether served as a side dish/appetizer, or as the main course. Cooked shrimp or crab meat can be added (or cashews if vegetarian), or try eating it as they do in Thailand: with a bowl of sticky rice. ENJOY!

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • SERVES 4+ (Makes one very large bowl of Som Tam)
  • 1/2 green papaya (see buying instructions below)
  • 1- 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1/2 English cucumber, sliced into matchstick-like pieces
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into thin wedges or strips
  • 3 green onions, cut into matchstick-like pieces
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, ground or chopped
  • Optional: 3/4 to 1 cup cooked shrimp or crab meat (if vegetarian: add 1/2 to 1 cup fried tofu)
  • DRESSING:
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce (OR 4 Tbsp. soy sauce if vegetarian)
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp. liquid honey (to taste)
  • 1 tsp. shrimp paste (OR 1 tsp. ground bean sauce if vegetarian)
  • 1-2 Thai red chilies (or substitute 1/2 tsp. or more dried crushed chili)

Preparation:

For step-by-step recipe instructions, see: How to Make Green Papaya Salad.

Shopping Tip: For this salad, you can try looking for a very green papaya at your grocery store (either 2 Hawaiian papayas or 1 Caribbean type). However, I recommend buying one at an Asian store, simply because it's hard to tell whether a papaya is actually green or in one of the stages of ripening. Asian stores and markets sell green papayas labelled as such. Sometimes they are even sliced open so you can see it is green inside (the seeds will be white).

  1. Stir all "dressing" ingredients together. This dressing should be tangy - a combination of sweet, sour, spicy and salty, but more sweet than sour (this will help balance out the sharpness of the papaya).
  2. Slice the papaya in half lengthwise and crack it open. Scrape out the seeds and discard. Then turn over each half and peel off the green skin.
  3. Use a large-size grater to grate the papaya, or shred it as they do in Thailand: simply make many long cuts into the flesh, then thinly slice off the top layer into a bowl (to see what this looks like, go to: How to Shred Green Papaya.
  4. At this point, Thai cooks preform an optional step, bashing the shredded papaya with a pestle to bring out the juice. Another way is to place the shredded papaya in a food processor and pulse briefly.

  5. Combine the green papaya with all the other salad ingredients in a large bowl, reserving the peanuts and half the fresh basil for toppings. Pour over the dressing and toss well.
  6. Taste-test the salad. If you'd prefer it saltier, add more fish sauce or soy sauce. If you'd prefer it sweeter, drizzle over a little more honey. Toss again.
  7. Portion out into bowls and top with the ground peanuts plus reserved basil. ENJOY!

Serving Suggestion: In Thailand, Green Papaya Salad is nearly always eaten with a side of sticky rice OR coconut rice. To make sticky rice, see: How to Make Sticky Rice (stovetop recipe), OR Easy Sticky Rice Recipe (made in a rice cooker). To make coconut rice, see: Coconut Rice (stovetop recipe) OR Coconut Rice (in a rice cooker).

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