Som Tam is a Thai-style Green Papaya Salad. A popular street food, Som Tam can be found in roadside stalls, markets and many restaurants in Thailand. There are many styles of Som Tam and it is believed to have originated in Laos. Isaan Som Tam is made by crushing small crabs (Som Tam Pu) and is always very very hot! My Som Tam is more like Som Tam Thai which contains peanuts.
My Papaya was green on the outside but getting quite a pinky orange on the inside. It was still firm enough to grate, however, and very yummy.
Cooking Thai food is always about taste. I don’t follow recipes I just do it to taste. What follows is what I did the last time I made Papaya salad but when making the dressing remember to mix it, then taste it and add the salt, sour and sweet flavours to taste as needed.
2 Tbs fish sauce
3 Tbs lime juice
2 Tbs palm sugar (or brown sugar)
3 cloves of garlic
2 small hot chillies
1 small papaya, peeled and grated
1 small carrot, peeled and grated
1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely julienne
6 beans, very finely sliced
1 tomato, chopped
2 spring onions, finely sliced
a handful of bean sprouts
5 Tbs tiny dried shrimp (crushed a little in the mortar)
Roasted peanuts (or crushed nuts*)
For the dressing
In a jar, I mixed the first three ingredients of the dressing. I gave the jar a really good shake and then tasted the dressing. You should be able to taste the salt of the fish sauce, sourness of the lime and sweetness of the sugar. Adjust your dressing until you are happy with it by adding more of what is needed i.e. sour, sweet or salty.
With a mortar and pestle, I crushed the garlic and red chillies and added them to the jar with the dressing. I gave it a really good shake and set it aside in the refrigerator until needed.
For the salad
In a bowl, I mixed the papaya, carrot, chilli, beans, tomato, spring onion and shrimp. Then I added a couple of tablespoons of crushed nuts because I didn’t have any roasted peanuts. The peanuts in this salad are usually chunky.
I added the dressing and mixed the salad well before serving with a sprinkling of crushed nuts.
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