Thai Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

I was really excited to see green papayas selling cheaply at my local supermarket (Sheng Siong). I bought one right away to make my favourite Thai green papaya salad, known to Thai locals as Som Tam.

See Also:

Som Tam (Papaya Salad) Ingredients

What I used. (1) Green papaya (2) Japanese dried shrimps as a substitution for Thai dried shrimps and (3) gula melaka syrup as a short cut if you are lazy (like me) to melt the gula melaka (palm sugar) chunks in a saucepan. You can use honey instead, though to me gula melaka gives an edge of flavour which sugar or honey lacks.

Green Papaya

A mortar and pestle is essential to extract the full flavours of this tropical salad by lightly pounding and bashing the flavours out of the ingredients. Lastly, a zigzag peeler (what I used) or mandolin slicer will be a great investment to get professional shredded papaya in almost no time at all. Check out the write-up at Thai mango salad for more tips for making this refreshing Thai salad.

Som Tam (Papaya Salad) Recipe

Thai Papaya Salad (Som Tam) Recipe

Use a mortar and pestle to pound the ingredients. If your mortar and pestle is not big enough, pound in batches and transfer to a large salad bowl for tossing. Season the salad dressing to taste accordingly – it should be a balance of hot, salty, sour and sweet.


  • 1 Thai green papaya you need 200 grams of shredded papaya
  • 1 garlic clove peeled
  • 2 tbsp roasted peanuts or cashews
  • 10 Thai dried shrimps alternatively, 3 tbsp Japanese baby dried shrimps
  • 3 chilli padi (bird’s eye chilli) sliced thinly; to taste
  • 4 shallots peeled & sliced thinly
  • 2 raw long bean ends trimmed; sliced to 5 cm (2 inch) length
  • 4 tbsp gula melaka (palm sugar) syrup alternatively, dissolve 3 tbsp honey in 1.5 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce to taste
  • juice of half Thai lime (or one small lime) lime rind reserved
  • 5 cherry tomatoes halved
  • coriander for garnishing


  1. Halve papaya lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrap out the seeds. Peel and discard the skin, then julienne 200 grams papaya using a knife, zigzag peeler or a mandoline slicer. If not using right away, soak cut papaya in ice water for a few minutes, then drain and pat dry with paper towel before tossing.
  2. Add garlic, peanuts or cashews, dried shrimps, chilli padi, shallots, long beans, palm sugar syrup, fish sauce, lime juice, lime rind and fish sauce to mortar. Pound with pestle to gently crush the ingredients to release their flavours, about a minute. Remove lime rind.
  3. Add cherry tomatoes and shredded papaya to mortar. Pound gently with pestle until tomatoes are softly crushed, moist but still intact.
  4. Toss to coat everything evenly. Transfer to serving plate and garnish with coriander.