Grow In The Kitchen: Thai Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

Grow In The Kitchen: Thai Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

This Thai Green Papaya Salad is a substantial dish that is tasty, sharp and spicy. It is great on its own or as a side dish with curry. Lime juice is an important ingredient so here is a top tip: roll the lime firmly with the palm of your hand over a work surface a few times before squeezing it and you will get more juice. And always cut the lime through the middle, not end to end.

Servings: 4 servings


Ingredients for Thai Green Papaya Salad:

  • 2 large cloves of garlic, finely grated
  • 20g fresh root ginger, finely grated
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 red bird’s-eye chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp grated palm sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp tamarind water
  • 5 snake beans (or French beans)
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 green papaya (about 700g)
  • 1 heaped tbsp dried baby shrimps, soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes
  • large bunch of fresh mint (about 30g)
  • large bunch of Thai basil (about 30g)
  • 50g peanuts, toasted in a dry frying pan and roughly chopped
  • 1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced


  1. Put the garlic, ginger, lime juice, bird’s-eye chilli, palm sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce and tamarind water in a pestle and mortar. Pound well to dissolve the sugar and mix all those lovely flavours, then tip everything into a large bowl. Trim the beans and cut them into 5cm lengths. Bruise them slightly in the pestle and mortar, then add them to the bowl with the garlic, ginger and chilli dressing.

  2. Cut the tomatoes in half and slightly bruise them in the pestle and mortar, then add them to the bowl with the beans.

  3. Cut the papaya in half lengthways and remove the seeds. Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, cut the papaya flesh into fine matchstick strips and add them to the bowl. Drain the dried shrimps and add them to the salad, then mix well.

  4. Pick the leaves from the mint and basil and toss them through the salad. Add the toasted peanuts and half the chilli and tip the salad into a large serving dish. Add the rest of the sliced chilli and serve.

Top Tip: If you don’t have a green papaya, try substituting shredded cucumber, carrot and radish.

Want more recipe-spiration? Check out our recipe for Cauliflower Steak.

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