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Thai Green Papaya Salad – Som Tam Recipe
Som Tam, or better known as Thai Green Papaya Salad, is after Pad Thai and Curry probably one of the most iconic Thai dishes, but can rarely be found in restaurants outside of Thailand. Unfortunately, I’ve never been to Thailand (yet, but it’s on my list), so I have never had the opportunity to taste the fresh, tangy spicy and authentic version of Thai Green Papaya Salad. How did I come up with a recipe of something I have never tasted before, you may ask? I did research. I watched clips on YouTube, read recipes, mixed and matched and tried it out a couple of different ways. And I came up with something delicious. While I am not sure that my Thai Green Papaya Salad is truly authentic, I also want to assure you that I didn’t just make it up on the go.
So why am I sharing a Thai Green Papaya Salad recipe with you guys then? Because I love to try new things. This is what living an international lifestyle is all about. I can’t hop on a plane to Southeast Asia right now, but I can go to the Asian Market and buy some Papaya, Fish sauce and some other exotic ingredients and bring a taste of Thailand home to me. How about you? What’s your excuse?
Thai Green Papaya Salad Recipe
- 1 small/medium green papaya (shredded, about 4-5 cups)
- 10 grape tomatoes or 1 medium tomato
- 7-8 green beans (raw)
- 2-5 Thai chilis (to taste)
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 1/3 cup roasted peanuts
- 0.5x0.5 inch piece of tamarind pulp
- 1/4 cup water
- 1.5 tbsp palm sugar (I used brown sugar instead)
- 2 tbsp Fish Sauce (add more for a stronger taste)
- Lime juice of 1/2 large lime (about 2 tbsp)
- 4 tbsp dried shrimp
- Shred your papaya in a food processor or with a mandolin, cheese shredder. The green papaya is still pretty firm, so a sharp blade is important. Don't cut yourself!
- Warm up 1/4 water and Tamarind pulp to medium hot temperature. Let soak for a few minutes and when it is cool enough to handle with your hands, massage tamarind pulp to separate pulp from seeds and fibers. Discard seeds and fibers.
- Stir in the sugar, lime juice and fish sauce and make the dressing.
- In a mortar and pestle, crush the roasted peanuts and set aside.
- Then add the garlic and Thai chilis to the mortar and pestle and pound slightly. Don't hit it too hard, you still want to see small chunks, not a paste. Add the dried shrimp and pound a little bit more. Add the dressing, the tomatoes and the beans and continue to mix and slightly bruise with the mortar and pestle.
- If your mortar and pestle is large enough, add the shredded papaya and pound more to combine and mix the flavors. My mortar and pestle is tiny, so I added everything to a stainless steel bowl and massaged it thoroughly with my hands, squishing it and really mixing it up. Add back 2/3 of the crushed peanuts, plate, sprinkle with remaining peanuts and enjoy!
Are you ready to try something new? I love cooking and trying new recipes and for me, going to an Asian or Middle Eastern super market is part of the fun. Take in the smells, look at the strange packaging, listen to the people speak in foreign languages. For me, this is as close as going to a foreign country as it gets. Living an International Lifestyle isn’t always about travel and jet setting around the world. You can experience other cultures, food and traditions even when you are at home. So have some fun in the kitchen and try my Thai Green Papaya Salad concoction and if you like it, let me know, what you think!