I love this salad for the way the simple ingredients interplay. My Thai friend told me that you can judge how good a cook is from their Som Tam’s. The dish is normally cooked in summer.

All the vegetables used in this salad are non-starchy, so besides the dried prawn, everything is actually quite healthy and useful for weight maintenance or weight loss. But I love my dried prawns in there. So, if you are on a diet, leave those out, and the salad will still taste awesome.

In Thailand, there are four main kinds of salads: Yam, Tam, Lap and Phla. The somtam is a ‘tam’ salad, where things are being pounded in a mortar. Therefore, to make this (and other yam salads), it is best to use a mortar, something like this fella:

This recipe is from my Thai cook teacher. Chef Ton was the Culinary Champion in Thailand in 2008. Her food is the best I have ever tasted in Thailand. In all ‘tam’ salads, the sauce is pretty standard mix of fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar. Everybody has a different preference, so this combination in the recipe is mine. Some people like it sweeter, others saltier and yet others more sour. Adjust according to your taste.

This is how a green papaya looks like, this is the pear shape version, there is also the long, slim ones. Those are sweeter:

green papaya

green papaya

Thai Papaya Salad (Som Tam )

Thai Papaya Salad (Som Tam )


100g Shredded Green Papaya

1 clove Garlic

1 String bean, cut into sections

5 Cherry or Grape Tomatoes

1/2 Birdeye chili

20 Dried Shrimps, soaked and then dried

1 Tablespoons Roasted Peanuts

1 teaspoon Fried Shallots

Salad Sauce

1 Tbsp Fish Sauce

2 Tbsp Palm Sugar

1 Tbsp Lime Juice

Vietnamese version

A handful of mint leaves

A handful of basil leaves

Sliced boiled pork belly

Sliced boil prawns


  1. Just pound all the ingredients in the mortar in this order: Garlic, chilies, string beans, papaya, dried shrimps and peanuts.
  2. Add the tomatoes and pound gently.
  3. Mix the sauce and pour over the salad.
  4. Toss and serve immediately.