Make Ahead

Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad)

June 28, 2011
4 Ratings
  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This is a summer favorite when green papaya and long green beans are in season. It is usually topped with grilled shrimp. It tastes 'cooked', but the cooking is actually bruising the vegetables to soak in the salty, sweet, sour dressing. —edamame2003

Test Kitchen Notes

Without a pok pok, I just put it in a bowl with a tight lid and shook it violently to bruise everything a little bit. I found it on the spicy side, but a lovely mix of salty and sweet. —Stephanie Bourgeois

What You'll Need
  • For the dressing
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar (or regular sugar)
  • 3 crushed Thai bird peppers (optional or remove seeds to adjust)
  • For the salad
  • 2 cups shredded green papaya
  • 8 to 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 3/4 cup long green beans, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1/8 cup roasted peanuts, chopped for garnish(optional)
  • 1 handful cilantro leaves for garnish
  1. In a mortar, smash the garlic into a paste.
  2. Add the chili peppers and smash lightly.
  3. Move to a separate bowl and add the remaining 'dressing' ingredients. Adjust to your taste.
  4. In the mortar add the 'salad' ingredients to fill up to half the mortar. Bruise the vegetables using the pestle.
  5. Add some of the dressing and lightly pound the dressing into the vegetables.
  6. Continue until all the salad and dressing is mixed.
  7. Garnish with peanuts and cilantro
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Sagegreen
  • gingerroot
  • mrslarkin
  • edamame2003
I work in the entertainment business, and in my free time, I really enjoy growing my own vegetables, trolling my local farmers markets and trying to re-create yummy dishes I eat at my favorite restaurants. My son is a big influence on how and what I cook. He's my guinea pig and promises to try anything I make once. Luckily the recipes on food52 are bountiful and delicious.

7 Reviews

Sagegreen July 3, 2011
If I can find a green papaya and that blue kiwi shredder, I would love to make this. Sounds wonderful!
gingerroot June 29, 2011
One of my absolute favorite salads! I have an enormous (really, I wish I could send you a pic of it) green papaya from my CSA that has been sitting on my counter waiting patiently... (okay, it's so big I've been kind of intimidated by it) now it is destined for dinner with your recipe!
edamame2003 June 29, 2011
gingerroot--please try to use the cheapy KIWI shredder (its a little blue peeler looking thing, if you don't have). i originally tried to make this using a mandoline and it bruised and the pieces were too thick. you can also stir fry the papaya (quickly) in pad thai sauce for another dish. can't wait to hear how it turns out!
gingerroot July 1, 2011
Thanks so much for the tool tip! Did not have a julienne peeler, picked one up and it did the trick. This is a FANTASTIC recipe!! We added some grilled chicken and made a meal of it, it is so good. So simple, yet so deliciously complex. I really think the bruising makes all the difference. Thank you for a wonderful recipe that I will make again and again! (I will have to take your idea about stir frying the papaya in pad thai sauce because I still have half of my enormous papaya, lol).
mrslarkin June 28, 2011
Wow, this sounds yummy! Is green papaya just an unripe papaya? Or is it something else?
edamame2003 June 29, 2011
hi mrslarkin--hmmm. i actually don't know for sure. maybe they are picked unripe. they're totally green on the outside and almost look like acorn squash and a cucumber color on the inside.
mrslarkin July 7, 2011
Hi edamame2003, i found green papaya! but the produce guy didn't let me buy it because he thought it wasn't ripe enough. They were mostly all green. Should i buy it all green?? Do you let it ripen before shredding?? And lastly, what do you do with the rest of the green papaya?? the ones I saw are ginormous! (+ 6 lbs.)