Among all the exotic dishes from Thai cuisine, Som Tum is one of the most iconic salads that is even popular outside its origin country. This article will bring you some exciting information about this dish and an easy recipe to try out at home!

Som Tum, or Thai Green Papaya Salad contains many flavorful ingredients. Green papaya is the star of the show, while a few other vegetables go with it. This dish has the perfect balance of flavors that captures sourness, sweetness, umami, and saltiness. And, it is usually served alongside Thai fried rice, plain rice, fried chicken, etc.

Let’s move on to the rest of the article and see what’s more we have in for you about this dish!

Som Tum-SpiceRally

What Is In Som Tum?

Som Tum, also called Som Tam in Thailand, is a popular fresh salad served in almost every restaurant, street food stall, and hotel. “Som” literally translates to “sour” in English, while “Tum” or “Tam” means “pound in a mortar and pestle”. 

This Thai salad combines unripened green papaya and a few other fresh vegetables mixed with a lot of Thai flavorings. It has the perfect balance of all the flavors and is very refreshing and exotic to the bite. 

Many different varieties of Som Tum can be found across Thailand. They use different ingredients in their recipes. But still, we are going to discuss the formalized set of ingredients used constantly in this salad.

Green papaya- You must choose a fine and mature green papaya to make this salad. It should be unripened without any specks of yellow color on the skin. The perfect green papaya brings the perfect texture and quality to this salad.

Fresh spices- Garlic and Thai red chiles. The amount of Thai red chiles is always dependent on the preference of the heat level.

Vegetables- Thai long beans (aka snake beans), small Thai tomatoes, or cherry tomatoes.

Seasonings- Fish sauce, grated palm sugar, fresh lime juice, and fresh tamarind juice.

Other ingredients- dried shrimp/ shrimp paste, dry-roasted peanuts.

Other possible additions– Regular green beans, julienned carrots, julienned cucumber, bean sprouts, spring onions toasted sunflower seeds, basil, cilantro, mint, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, soy sauce, etc.

As refreshing as Som Tum, the Asian ramen salad is another salad dish that can tantalize your senses with its incredible flavor. We have posted a special recipe right in this article that you can try at home with minimal effort!

How To Make This Dish At Home?

Bring the goodness of a Thai restaurant to your home diner- make Som Tum at home! This fresh salad is bursting with flavors, so refreshing and healthy at the same time. However, before everything, check out the ingredients in our recipe and take a quick visit to the nearest Asian store. 

You need these essentials to make the perfect Som Tum that safeguards authentic Thai exotic flavors. So, let’s get going!

Som Tum (Thai Green Papaya Salad) Recipe!

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Recipe by SpiceRally


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  • Spices
  • 2 cloves 2 Garlic

  • 2-3 2-3 Thai chiles (fresh, red Thai chiles)

  • Other ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups 1 1/2 Shredded Green papaya

  • 2-3 2-3 Long beans (cut into 2-inch pieces)

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 Cherry tomatoes (halved)

  • 2 tbsp 2 Fresh Lime juice

  • 2 tsp 2 Tamarind juice

  • 3 tbsp 3 Peanuts (roasted, unsalted)

  • 1 1/2 tbsp 1 1/2 Fish sauce

  • 1 tbsp 1 Small Dried shrimp

  • 1 1/2 tbsp 1 1/2 Palm sugar (grated)

  • 3 cups 3 Ice water

  • For serving
  • Plain rice/ fried chicken/ grilled fish/ roasted meat/ Thai fried rice



  • Preparation
  • Choosing the method of pounding the salad-
    First, you must be prepared with the equipment suitable to pound the salad. The key to the taste of this salad is releasing the flavors of the ingredients by pounding. However, we use a mortar and pestle in our recipe. But, you have three possible options for this:
    Use a mortar and pestle– This is the traditional method of making Som Tum. You can use a large mortar and pestle of clay or granite.
    Using a large plastic bag- Put the ingredients inside a large plastic bag and pound generously using a wooden rolling pin.
    A large bowl and a rolling pin- You will need a large bowl with a heavy bottom. Place the ingredients into the bowl and pound using the wooden rolling pin.
  • Shredding the papaya-
    You can use two methods to shred the papaya. First, peel the skin off using a regular kitchen peeler, wash the papaya, and wipe it with a kitchen towel. Then:
    Shredding with a knife- You can take a sharp knife and tap the fruit generously and deeper into the flesh to create some nice cuts. Hold the fruit, keeping your hand underneath the fruit, and be careful not to hurt your fingers. Once making the cuttings, you can angle your knife down and shave off the cuttings to make nice papaya shreds.
    Using a julienne peeler- You can find a julienne peeler at your Asian grocery store or purchase it online. This is the safest and the most effective way of shredding your green papaya.
  • For your salad to have more freshness and crunchiness, soak the shredded papaya in ice water for 10-15 minutes. Then, transfer them to the colander and drain the water. Move the shredded papaya into a kitchen towel and let it absorb the excess water content.
  • In the meantime, take some regular water in a small bowl, put the dried shrimp, and let them soak for about five minutes.

  • Let’s make Som Tum
  • In the mortar, add the clove of garlic along with the Thai red chiles. Give them a pound until coarsely crushed.
  • Next, add the palm sugar and pound until there are no more big chunks. By this time, your ingredients should have turned into a wet paste.
  • Follow up with the pieces of long beans and pound again till they break down.
  • Bring down the soaked shrimp out of the water, and add it to the pounded paste along with the roasted peanuts. Give everything a slight, good pound.
  • Now, stir in the lime juice, fish sauce, and tamarind juice. Take a spoon and combine everything, folding, until everything comes together very well.
  • Add the shredded papaya and follow the flip-and-pound method to combine everything. This means you need to flip your pestle across the mortar while pounding slightly.
  • Finally, add the tomatoes and follow the same flip-and-pound method until the tomatoes are slightly crushed to release their juices into the salad.
  • Get the spoon, give another good mix, and check the taste. If you think you need more seasonings, go ahead and adjust them at this point.
  • Transfer the Som Tum to serving plates and serve alongside plain rice, Thai fried rice, fried chicken, grilled fish, or roasted meat.

Tasty Tips and Suggestions

  • Adjust the red chiles more or less, depending on your preference for heat level in your Som Tum.
  • To make the vegan version of this salad- you can omit the fish sauce and dried shrimp in this recipe. Add a splash of soy sauce instead.
  • If you can’t find the long beans, just the regular green beans would do fine as a substitute.
  • Replace palm sugar with brown sugar if you can’t find it around.
  • Some shreds of julienned carrots would add some extra flavor, and color to upgrade your Som Tum!
  • Leave out the peanuts if you’re making this salad for guests whom you have no idea of having nut allergies.
  • If you can’t get hold of fresh tamarind juice, just go with shop-bought tamarind concentrate.

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What Other Types Of Nuts and Seeds We Can Use Instead Of Peanuts In Som Tum?

If you’re not a fan of peanuts, you use other nuts and seeds in place of peanuts in your recipe such as toasted sunflower seeds, toasted pumpkin seeds, toasted almonds, toasted cashew nuts, toasted candlenuts and toasted macadamia nuts.

What Are The Other Sweeteners We Can Use In Som Tum Instead of Palm Sugar?

Well, if you can’t find palm sugar or do not like using it, you can use the following sweeteners in your recipe:

– Regular white or brown sugar
– Maple syrup
– Agave syrup
– Honey
– Coconut sugar

To learn about more delicious dinner ideas from Thai cuisine, click on this link and refer to our detailed article!

Is Som Tum Vegan-friendly?

Traditionally, this dish is not vegan-friendly since fish sauce and dried shrimp or shrimp paste are added. But, if you’re making this salad at home, you can skip these ingredients and make your own vegan version of Som Tum.

Does This Dish Contain Gluten?

No direct gluten-related ingredient is used in Som Tum originally. But, this might sometimes change if you use soy sauce since most soy sauce options contain gluten. Therefore, if you eat this dish from outside, inquire about its content.

Is This Dish Keto-friendly?

Of course! Som Tum can be one of the healthiest additions to your ketogenic diet. It is very low in calories and carbs, making it the perfect inclusion in your healthy, low-carb diet plan.

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