Recipe: Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad)

This is a really popular little dish from Northeastern Thailand, and goes brilliantly with some barbecued chicken and sticky rice.

Head to Thailand and you can get this from almost any street hawker, each with their own little twists and variations.

Have all the ingredients ready before you start. And don't forget to taste as you go. Som tum is a very personal thing, which is why only one serving is prepared at a time.

Everyone likes theirs a little different. And when you order a som tum in Thailand they'll actually ask your preference eg. not hot, quite sweet, salty with just a bit of chilli etc.



  • 5 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 6 green beans
  • 2 chilli peppers
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried shrimp
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 cups shredded green papaya (many Asian supermarkets sell this pre-shredded)
  • 3/4 lime
  • 1 1/2 tbsp palm sugar
  • 2 tbsp toasted peanuts (optional)



  • In a mortar and pestle, smash a clove of garlic then add the beans and cherry tomatoes (f you don't have a mortar and pestle, just crush using the flat side of a large knife)
  • Pound a few times, just to bruise the beans and get the juice out of the tomatoes.
  • Add chili peppers, crush just enough to release the hotness (unless you like your salad really hot).
  • Add the green papaya, dried shrimp, toasted peanuts, fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar.
  • Serve with sticky rice and a sliver of cabbage, green beans and Thai basil.


Tips and adaptations:

  • Use the pestle to push the mixture up in the mortar and the spatula to push it down so that the mixture is mixed well
  • Many Asian supermarkets have pre-shredded green papaya, but if you can only find whole green papaya, peel and shred it using a regular cheese grater 
  • Can use tamarind in place of lime
  • Regular sugar can used instead of palm sugar 


Vegetarian option: 
Leave out the dried shrimp and substitute soy sauce for fish sauce.


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