Bowl of Green Papaya Salad #1
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Green Papaya Salad #1
  -   Som Tam Thai
1-1/2 #  
45 min  
This is perhaps the most famous Thai salad, also popular in Laos and Vietnam, and a wonderful crunchy salad it is. It's normally made in a large clay mortar with a wooden pestle. If you don't have one you'll have to improvise (see Note-6). For a simpler version, see Green Papaya Salad #2.


Papaya, green. (1)  
Long Beans
Grape Tomatoes
Thai Chili (2)
Dry Shrimp small
-- Dressing
Tamarind paste (3)
Palm sugar (4)
Lime Juice
Fish Sauce (5)
--- Garnish
Roasted Peanuts (opt)  
    - crushed.
Prep   -   (30 minutes)
  1. Prepare TAMARIND PASTE (if not using concentrate - See Note-3). Crush PALM SUGAR and mix all Dressing items.
  2. Peel GREEN PAPAYA. Cut into thin julienne strips about 2 inches long. A julienning vegetable peeler is perfect for this. Mine is a Titan, far superior to the Oxo I used to have. Do the same with the CARROT. Mix.
  3. Cut LONG BEANS into 1-1/2 inch lengths.
  4. Cut Grape TOMATOES in half. If you have larger Cherry Tomatoes, cut them into quarters.
  5. Slice CHILIS crosswise very thin and chop fine. Crush GARLIC and chop fine. Mix.
  6. Crush dried SHRIMP coarse to measure.
Pounding   -   (15 min)
  1. In your clay mortar, pound Chili mix until well crushed (see Note-5).
  2. Add Dried Shrimp and pound to blend.
  3. Add Green Papaya mix and Dressing mix. Pound until it is well bruised and the other ingredients are well distributed through it.
  4. Add Long Beans to the mortar and pound just until beans are bruised, not broken or flattened.
  5. Add Grape Tomatoes and crush them in lightly.
  6. Let flavors blend for a while, then serve cool but not chilled. If you like (I don't), garnish with lightly crushed roasted peanuts.
  1. Green Papaya:   Weight is after peeling and cutting. These are fully unripe papayas. The seeds within are still mostly white and the flesh is a very pale green. I have successfully used papayas that had some traces of pink blush at the center around fully black seeds. Green papayas are widely available in markets serving Southeast Asian communities, particularly Filipino. For details see our Papayas page.
  2. Thai Chili:   Red or Green can be used. In northern Thailand and Laos 6 or more chilis might be used, but 3 chilis makes it decently spicy by Southern California standards. If you're uncertain you may want to cut it back to 2. Fresh de Arbols are the best substitute. Serranos can be used but cut the quantity in half because, though not as hot, they're much larger. For details see our Chili Page.
  3. Tamarind:   Soaking pulp from a block provides the best flavor. Use 3 T from the block, chop it, add hot water to just cover and let it sit 20 minutes or so. Force it through a wire strainer until only fibers remain. Second best is 3 T from a jar of concentrate. For details and method, see our Tamarind Page.
  4. Palm Sugar:   This flavorful sugar can be found in any market catering to a Southeast Asian community, and in some Indian markets. If you don't have it, use an amber sugar like Turbinado.
  5. Fish Sauce:   This is an absolutely essential ingredient for Southeast Asian cuisines. If you are unfamiliar with it, see our Fish Sauce - Introduction page.
  6. Method   Traditionally a very large clay mortar with a wood pestle is used to make this salad. The pounding is not straight up and down, but rather at the upper edge of the contents, bruising it against the side of the mortar. A spoon is used to continuously bring ingredients up from the bottom to where the pestle strikes. For details see our Mortar & Pestle page. If you don't have one of these, you will have to improvise, probably pounding the individual ingredients in smaller batches and then mixing all.
  7. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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