Thai Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

I've been craving a green papaya salad or som tam for ages! Unfortunately, our new papaya trees are not producing fruit yet, and it's surprisingly impossible to get green papayas at the market. Luckily, we went past some random roadside papaya trees and spied a laden tree, just the perfect height for picking. Yay, free food! Now, som tam is an Isan dish. Isan is the northeastern region of Thailand, where a lot of culture and cuisine is heavily influenced by Laos. Isan food is less heavy on the curries and complex preparation, and more on the straightforward side—grilled and deep fried proteins, and intensely flavourful salads. I just love som tam, it's such a simple blend of flavours that is so fresh and appetizing. Green papaya salad is traditionally served with plain steamed sticky rice, Vegan Larb Moo and something grilled. I like to have it with grilled tofu and mushrooms (het yang), recipe coming soon!
Servings: 2 yield(s)
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 10 mins
Ingredients
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 bird's eye chillies (adjust to spice level)
  • 1.5 tbsp vegan fish sauce or soy sauce (or g/f option)
  • 1.5 tbsp lime juice (I used about 10 calamansi)
  • 1 tbsp sugar (ideally palm sugar)
  • 2 tbsp roasted peanuts
  • 1 medium tomato (or 2 small tomatoes)
  • 1 small green papaya
Instructions
  1. Peel the green papaya then sliver it. You can use the traditional way, which is hacking it with mad Thai auntie knife skills, or use a julienne peeler that you can buy from a 2-dollar shop. Guess which one I used! You only need a big handful of green papaya, so I only shaved about ⅔ of this green papaya.
  2. IMPORTANT: This dish is an attacking dish. You need to smash it. Civilized chopping and mixing isn't going to do. In Thailand, the som tam vendors have a specific som tam bashing pot, but I am just going to use a steel mixing bowl, and the flat end of a rolling pin. I've also used spice bottles and sauce bottles before. Use whatever you have in your house! Photo: <a href="https://www.dreamstime.com/hand-woman-cooking-spicy-green-papaya-salad-carrot-herb-wooden-mortar-street-food-vendor-make-som-tam-thailand-tha-thai-image119845917">119845917</a> © <a href="https://www.dreamstime.com/nnonthamand_info" itemprop="author">Narin Nonthamand</a> - <a href="https://www.dreamstime.com/">Dreamstime.com</a>
  3. Start with the garlic and chilli, and pound them until they are all over the place.
  4. Add 1.5 tbsp vegan fish sauce or soy sauce, 1.5 tbsp of lime juice, and 1 tbsp of sugar. Pound the sugar around the bowl until it's fully dissolved.
  5. Cut the tomato into wedges, then add to the bowl with the roasted peanuts. Pound them until the tomato is proper smooshed and the peanuts in all different sizes.
  6. Add the green papaya slivers and mix well.
  7. Plate with optional lime, fresh Thai basil, raw cabbage or cut raw long beans.