A Classic Thai Som Tum (Spicy Green Papaya Salad) Recipe

Som tum or spicy green papaya salad is an extremely popular classic dish in Thai cuisine. It comes from northeast Thailand, but it has found a foothold in every corner of the country.

This dish of strips of crunchy unripe papaya bruised in a mortar and pestle with tomato, long beans, chili, lime and fish sauce is fresh, and balances all the flavors of sweet, spicy, salty, and sour, to perfection on a single plate.

Yummy… What else are you waiting for? This dish is pretty simple to make. Here’s the recipe just for you:


  • 6 medium dried shrimp
  • One 1 1/2-pound green papaya
  • 2 small Thai chilies, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, halved
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons palm sugar or light brown sugar
  • 1/4 pound thin green beans, halved crosswise
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 dozen cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped roasted, salted peanuts


  1. In a small bowl, cover the dried shrimp with hot water. Let stand for 5 minutes, then drain. Cut the shrimp into thirds.
  2. Using a serrated knife, halve the papaya crosswise and peel the skin. Scrape out the seeds. Using a mandoline slicer, julienne the flesh (you should have about 6 cups).
  3. In a large mortar, pound the chilies and the garlic to a coarse paste. Add the sugar and shrimp and pound until blended. Add the green beans and lightly pound them. Pour in the lime juice and fish sauce and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the tomatoes and lightly pound them. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl. Add the papaya and peanuts, toss well and serve.


  1. In Thailand, som tam is eaten with Thai sticky rice. You can grab a small ball of sticky rice and dip it into the green papaya salad dressing.
  2. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, just chop up the garlic and chilies, and prepare everything in a metal or glass mixing bowl.

photo: templeofthai.com

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