Thai papaya salad (som tum Thai)

  • Servings : 1
  • Prep Time : 15m
  • Ready In : 15m

We got hooked on papaya salad during a recent trip to London. As soon as we got back, the hunt for green papaya was on. What luck to stumble onto green papaya twice in a week – first at Coop and then at Hong Kong Trading. OK, the price was a bit steep, 95 crowns/kg but it’s enough to feed 4 people as a main.

The difficult thing about this recipe is getting the dressing right. Unlike the Vietnamese dressing for papaya salad which is much sweeter, the taste you’re going for here is fishy and tart from the lime. There is some palm sugar but it’s very little.

When choosing a green papaya, make sure that the fruit is still hard when you press it. If it’s soft, then it’s in the process of ripening or is ripe and isn’t suitable for this recipe. Asian stores usually sell green papayas.

Adding boiled shrimp, raw shrimp or dried shrimp can make this dish more filling.

The portion given here is for one portion as we prefer to make the papaya salad individually to every’s taste.


  • 100g shredded green papaya
  • 1 tablespoon of dried shrimp
  • 2 snake beans (can substitute with haricot verts)
  • 3-4 cherry tomatoes
  • 1-2 bird's eye chili (depending on your taste for heat)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 1.5 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 1.25 tablespoons of palm sugar (can substitute with brown sugar)
  • 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 1-2 tablespoons of roasted, unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped


Step 1

Peel the papaya and shred using a papaya peeler or box grater.

Step 2

Discard the ends of the snake beans and cut into 4cm long pieces.

Step 3

Cut the cherry tomatoes into halves.

Step 4

Peel the garlic cloves and crush in a pestle and mortar.

Step 5

Add the chilies and bruise into a paste.

Step 6

Add the snake beans and dried shrimp and lightly bruised. Do the same for the tomatoes.

Step 7

Make the dressing by mixing the lime juice, sugar, fish sauce and water. Adjust the saltiness, sweetness, or tartness to your liking.

Step 8

Do a taste test. Take a small amount of papaya and add 1 tablespoon of dressing. Mix well. Taste and adjust as needed.

Step 9

Add the papaya to the mortar and the dressing. Mix well.

Step 10

Garnish with coarsely chopped roasted peanuts. Usually served with sticky rice.

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