Green Papaya Salad or Som Tum Thai consists of mainly dried shrimp, peanuts, cherry tomatoes and of course green papaya. Snake beans are also added, but I didn't have any on hand. But the reason why green papaya salad is one of my favourite Thai dishes is the dressing that ties all the ingredients together. Its a combination of smashed garlic and chilli with fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar. The end result is a salad that tastes equally sweet, sour and spicy....which I find really addictive. :)
Its the palm sugar that makes all the difference. I've tried substituting with white sugar before, but it just didn't taste the same.
I also prefer to pound up the dried shrimp until its light and fluffy. I'm not really a fan of munching on small bits of harden dried shrimp. Also P usually avoids anything that resembles the shape of a prawn, but with the shrimp pounded, its all good. Its not like he doesn't know I'm slipping shrimps into the dish, he is the one pounding it.
This is a salad you can just have on its own, or as an side dish with other red meats or seafood. I like to serve it on top of a whole Snapper or any other white fish that has been pan fried until the skin is crispy. The tanginess and spices from the salad transforms the simple pan fried fish into a totally different dish.
Green Papaya Salad - Som Tum Thai
Recipe adapted from Chez Pim's Green Beans Salad
- 1 tablespoon Dried Shrimp
- 1 1/2 Cups Shredded Green Papaya
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 1 Thai Bird Chilli
- 1 tablespoon Roasted Peanuts
- 8-10 Cherry Tomatoes (about a handful - big ones sliced into halves)
- 2 tablespoons Palm Sugar
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoon Fish Sauce
- 4 Long Beans (Cut into 1/2" Lengths) - Optional
- Slice Green Papaya into fine strips and place into a glass or ceramic bowl
- In a mortar, pound and grind the dried shrimps until they turn into fluffy flakes, remove from the mortar and set aside.
- Gently mash up the garlic cloves in the mortar, then add the chilli and continue to grind until its turned into a chilli\garlic paste.
- Add in the tomatoes and gently press down on them to burst and bruise the cherry tomatoes.
- Add in the peanuts and pound them with the pestle until the peanuts are lightly crushed.
- Using a spoon, remove the mixture from the mortar and place into the bowl with the green papaya strips
- Add the palm sugar into the mortar and grind into a thick paste, remove from the mortar and mix into the bowl of papaya.
- To the bowl, add fish sauce and fresh lime juice and continue to stir until the contents are well mixed.
- Pour in the reserved shrimp flakes, stir and toss well to combine.
- Taste to check the seasonings, add palm sugar, lime juice or fish sauce as needed.
- If you only have blanched peanuts, just lightly toast them in a dry pan prior to using.