A delicious full flavored Thai green papaya salad aka "som tum" with various flavors of hot, salty, sweet and sour.
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!
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! (This authentic pad Thai sauce is still on my bucket list among other things from Asian cuisine). 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 beautiful 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.
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!
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 chilis. The dried shrimp was really my favorite part! Everyone needs to have that in their pantry.
Green Papaya Salad (Som Tum)
- 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
- ¼ cup roasted peanuts
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 1 teaspoon sriracha
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 lime juiced
- 1 tablespoon tamarind juice
- 2 Tb fish sauce
- 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.
- 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.
- Next add in the papaya and tomatoes and continue to press everything together, making sure all the ingredients are mixed evenly.
- Add all the dressing ingredients to the salad mixture. Continue to press and incorporate all the flavors. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
- 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!
Ashley @ Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen says
What a wonderful gift! This salad looks fabulous, too!
Karla @ Foodologie says
Papaya salad is my favorite! I love the Vietnamese version! It has an awesome sweet jerky on it that's amazing! In the summer, there's a night market in Westminster. We should go and have Vietnamese Papaya Salad!
Yes lets go!!!
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!
Dorothy at Shockingly Delicious says
Your salad looks fantastic!
I have been looking for a good papaya salad recipe for sometime now!! This looks so delicious!
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!!
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!
Couple of observations. Loose the brown sugar and get palm sugar from your local Asian market or Amazon. As much as I like Sriracha I would stick with the Thai chilies - two very different flavors. Another poster mentioned shrimp paste. I've never heard of anyone using it, although I'm sure some folks do, but crab paste is very common (still stinks to high heaven). and here is a real gem. GP salad is common in S.E. Asia. The problem, and it is a real headache, is that they mix the dressing differently. Same ingredients, just different ratios. The Vietnamese tend to go for not too spicy and more on the sour side whereas Thai, Lao, Hmong like the dressing more on the salty side and hot enough to peel paint. Your recipe is a great starting point, but these things are worth keeping in mind (depending on who you are cooking for) so you can adjust the balance for your Asian guests as needed. Chuckles. I learned this one the hard way the first time I made it for my Vietnamese wife's family. They didn't say anything but I could see they were really suffering (I made it Hmong style). Anyway, just some ideas. Nice website.
Ha! what a story..lol I tend to go on the spicier/hotter side since thta is a personal preference but understand it is all about balance. I bought shrimp paste and that stunk as well and couldn't find a reason to use it again. I do keep anchovy paste in the fridge (usually for Italian dishes) and wondering if that would be a good substitute instead of buying something I may never use. Thank you for the info..this is great and I'm so appreciative
This green papaya salad looks so amazing and tasty. I will definitely try to make it as soon as possible. I love to eat all kind of food, but the salad is my favorite type of food. So, green papaya salad, you are next! Haha. Thank you very much for sharing this recipe with us. Do you like eating salads too?