Green Papaya Salad (Som Tum)

A few months ago I was gifted with the most beautiful package. It was moments like this and people with huge hearts that really make me love what I do and keep doing. Even though I have a little blog compared to other huge websites, I know that there are people somewhere in this world that I have impacted in some way. Whether it is dinner inspiration or trying new foods, there is a personal impact which I am so grateful for!
Green Papaya Salad (Som Tum) via


I received an email from Deb who was currently in Asia and enjoyed reading my “world cuisine” experience through my blog. She insisted on sending me a little gift to help me explore Asian cuisine more, which I have often said is one that I would love to learn more about! Well a few weeks later I received the most touching package. Joe and I opened it up with much anticipation, sitting next to each other and eager to see what goods were inside the envelope. We were both so blown away that a package has traveled all the way from Asia to a tiny little beach town in Southern California, all through a few words on a web page. Amazing, isn’t it?



The package contained a beautful hand written note in a red envelope, a small Vietnamese cook book which I can not wait to explore, a kitchen tool for green papaya salad and other vegetables and a seasoning packet for Green papaya salad. Because I am one to treasure everything, I couldn’t bare to use the seasoning packet and opted to use other ingredients to make the papaya salad. The tool was awesome! It looks like a vegetable peeler in some ways but instead helps shred the papaya into long thin strips.


Green Papaya Salad (Som Tum) via


I couldn’t wait to begin searching for a fabulous green papaya salad recipe! I ran to the Asian market and low and behold I see piles of huge green papaya! I found a wonderful recipe with my new You Tube addiction called Hot Thai Kitchen and quickly got to work. I love this You Tube channel because she is authentic and explains what everything is for in wonderful detail. Surprisingly, I had most of the ingredients for this papaya salad already at home!
Green Papaya Salad (Som Tum) via

There are 5 main characteristics in Thai cuisine, which are salty, sweet, sour, bitter and hot. I have heard that all these different flavors should be in each bite, which is especially prevalent in green papaya salad. Traditionally, this salad is made with a mortar and pestle, where you would grind the ingredients together hence releasing it’s flavors into it’s own sauce and coating the shredded papaya. Well I didn’t have a large one that would be able to fit all of the salad ingredients, so I improvised. I used a large bowl and my trusty cocktail muddler. It did the job just perfect!

I have never tasted delicious flavors like this! I did some minor changes like subbing brown sugar for palm and sriracha for Thai chiles. The dried shrimp was really my favorite part! Everyone needs to have that in their pantry.

Green Papaya Salad (Som Tum)

Yield: 4 cups salad

Recipe adapted from Hot Thai Kitchen


    Papaya Salad
  • 2 cups shredded green papaya
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tb dried shrimp, chopped
  • 5-6 long green beans (or regular green beans), quickly blanched
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Salad Dressing
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp tamarind juice
  • 2 Tb fish sauce


  1. First cook the green beans if you havent already. Place them in boiling water for about 20 seconds and then remove them to an ice water bowl to stop the cooking. Drain and reseve to the side.
  2. In a large bowl, add the peanuts, garlic, dried shrimp and green beans. Use a muddler to press all the ingredients together. Alternatively, you can also use a large mortar and pestle or just your hands.
  3. Next add in the papaya and tomatoes and continue to press everything together, making sure all the ingredients are mixed evenly.
  4. Add all the dressing ingredients to the salad mixture. Continue to press and incorporate all the flavors. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
  5. Place salad in bowls and top with additional roasted peanuts and dried shrimp.

A few notes: You can either use the papaya shredded tool like the one I received to help shred papaya and I have heard you can find them in some Asian markets. There is also a technique, which is more traditional to shred papaya with your knife. You can see how to do it in this video by Hot Thai Kitchen.

Also, for the heat aspect in the salad, I subbed sriracha for Thai chiles. I am not sure how traditional the sriracha would be but it did add a nice heat element.

And….a huge, wonderful, heart welcoming thank you to Deb who inspired this delicious recipe and introduction to the wonderful flavors of Thai cuisine. It is wonderful people like you that make me truly grateful for what I do. Thank you, thank you!


Green Papaya Salad (Som Tum) via


  1. Deborah (Deb) Bonny says

    Hi Sam & Joe! I’m so excited to see you have made the salad and your photos are amazing. Looks fantastic too and I loved how you subbed some ingredients for those hard to find items.
    Most of all, I was touched by your words and I was so thrilled to read them and to see my letter and the contents of the package in photos, safely arrived to your home!
    Your blog is full of innovative ideas and again, thank you for sharing with us all. Let me know if you need more shredding tools (aren’t they the bees knees!) and next time I’m in Bangkok, I’ll pick some up for you.

    Happy creative cooking and enjoy those summer salads!
    Hugs, Deb.

  2. Jude says

    Nice to see one of my favourite salads included in your blog! The version on I make is just a bit different with lime juice instead of tamarind and some lightly toasted fermented shrimp paste (which smells horrible but adds the most wonderful flavour). I love the salad on sticky rice with some Asian roasted pork belly on the side. Oh great, now I’m hungry thinking of it!!

    • SamanthaSamantha says

      Hi Jude! The shrimp paste sounds wonderful actually. I use anchovy paste sometimes in Italian dishes and it gives the most wonderful depth of flavor too!

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