Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

Craving Thai food? This is one of the most popular types of salad in the country
Contributor
Green Papaya Salad

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Green papaya salad is incredibly popular in Thailand, so next time you're hankering for a salad, switch it up with this recipe.

This recipe is courtesy of About.com.

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1/2  green papaya (see buying instructions below)
  • 1  Cup  or two cups bean sprouts
  • 1/2  English cucumber, sliced into matchstick-like pieces
  • tomatoes, cut into thin wedges or strips
  • green onions, cut into matchstick-like pieces
  • 1/2  Cup  fresh coriander
  • 1/3  Cup  fresh basil
  • 1/4  Cup  dry roasted peanuts, ground or chopped
  • 3/4  Cups  or one cup cooked shrimp or crab meat (if vegetarian: add half or one cup fried tofu) (optional)

Dressing

  • or four cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice from one lime
  • 3  Tablespoons  fish sauce (if vegetarian: four tbsp. soy sauce)
  • 2  Tablespoons  brown sugar
  • 1  Tablespoon  or two tbsp. liquid honey (to taste)
  • 1  Teaspoon  shrimp paste (or one tsp. ground bean sauce if vegetarian)
  • or two Thai red chiles (or substitute half a teaspoon or more of dried crushed chili)

Directions

Salad

Shopping Tip: For this salad, you can try looking for a very green papaya at your grocery store (either 2 Hawaiian papayas or 1 Caribbean type.) However, I recommend buying one at an Asian store, simply because it's hard to tell whether a papaya is actually green or in one of the stages of ripening. Asian stores and markets sell green papayas labeled as such.

Sometimes they are even sliced open so you can see it is green inside (the seeds will be white.)

Stir all of the dressing ingredients together. This dressing should be tangy — a combination of sweet, sour, spicy, and salty, but more sweet than sour (this will help balance out the sharpness of the papaya.)

Slice the papaya in half lengthwise and crack it open. Scrape out the seeds and discard. Then turn over each half and peel off the green skin.

Use a large-size grater to grate the papaya, or shred it as they do in Thailand: Simply make many long cuts into the flesh, then thinly slice off the top layer into a bowl (to see what this looks like, go to: How to Shred Green Papaya.)

At this point, Thai cooks preform an optional step, bashing the shredded papaya with a pestle to bring out the juice. Another way is to place the shredded papaya in a food processor and pulse briefly.

Combine the green papaya with all the other salad ingredients in a large bowl, reserving the peanuts and half the fresh basil for toppings. Pour over the dressing and toss well

Taste-test the salad. If you'd prefer it saltier, add more fish sauce or soy sauce. If you'd prefer it sweeter, drizzle over a little more honey. Toss again.

Portion out into bowls and top with the ground peanuts plus reserved basil. Enjoy!

Serving Suggestion: In Thailand, Green Papaya Salad is nearly always eaten with a side of sticky rice or coconut rice. To make sticky rice, see: How to Make Sticky Rice (stovetop recipe), or Easy Sticky Rice Recipe (made in a rice cooker). To make coconut rice, see: Coconut Rice (stovetop recipe) or Coconut Rice (in a rice cooker).

Dressing

See "salad" instructions.

Papaya Salad Shopping Tip

Buy lettuce that is crisp and free of blemishes.

Papaya Salad Cooking Tip

Before dressing, keep your salad chilled in the refrigerator to stay crisp.