A Spicy Perspective

Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad)

How to Make Green Papaya Salad – This authentic Thai Som Tum recipe makes a delicious salad with crunchy and tart unripened papaya, beans, and vibrant seasonings. Serve as a refreshing appetizer or side dish this summer!

authentic som tum green papaya salad on a plate

What is Som Tum?

Som Tum is one of the best-known, most loved salads in Thailand and surrounding southeast Asian countries.

It’s made with hard and tart unripened papaya, long beans, and chopped peanuts for a terrific crunchy slaw-like consistency. And everything is tossed with classic Asian seasonings – including fish sauce, garlic, and chiles for incredibly bold flavors in every bite.

Similarly, Vietnamese papaya salad is also made with thinly sliced green papaya. However, the version from Vietnam tends to also have other shredded veggies, like carrots and cabbage, as well as cooked shrimp and fresh basil. It’s very tasty, but does tend to get a bit more complicated to make at home.

This Thai Green Papaya Salad recipe makes a wonderfully simple, light, and refreshing dish that can be enjoyed on its own, as an appetizer, or served as a side with your favorite Thai main dishes!

overhead view of green papaya thai salad on plates

Ingredients You Need

A traditional Thai salad includes simple, wholesome, and wonderfully vibrant ingredients. To make this classic Som Tum recipe you need:

  • Green papaya hard and unripened
  • Garlic clovespeeled
  • Scallionsgreen and white parts separated
  • Thai bird chilesseeded and sliced
  • Dry roasted peanutsor cashews, for those with a peanut allergy
  • Fish saucecan sub with soy sauce or tamari
  • Limezested and juiced
  • Sugargranulated white sugar or coconut sugar
  • Long beansalso known as snake beans (or skinny green beans), cut into segments
  • Roma tomatoseeded and chopped

Pro Tip: You can usually find green papayas, long beans, Thai chiles, and fish sauce at all Asian markets, and many large grocery stores with a good “international” section.

unripened papaya

How to Make Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad)

Start to finish this dish is ready in under 30 minutes. It’s great to chill before serving, and can even be made ahead!

The first step to making the best Som Tum Thai salad is to prepare the unripened papaya. Use a vegetable peeler to carefully peel the papaya. Take care to not scrape off much of the flesh.

peeled unripened fruit

Next, cut the hard flesh into long “julienne” slivers. Do this by using a julienne tool, or by tapping a large chef’s knife rapidly over the surface of the papaya, making many slashes in the same direction. Then shave them off, perpendicular to the slashes. You will need 6-7 cups of julienne papaya total.

Place the papaya slaw in a large bowl. Then pile ice over the papaya and fill the bowl with cold water. Let the slaw soak in the cold water to firm for 10-15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. This helps to keep the firm texture of the green papaya crisp and fresh.

julienned papaya in a bowl of ice water

Now get out a mortar and pestle. Place the garlic cloves, the white ends of the scallions, and the chopped chiles in the bowl. Use the pestle to mash the ingredients until very soft and broken.

Then add in the peanuts and lime zest. Smash and break the peanuts into fine pieces. 

mortar and pestle with seasonings

Now pour in the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, long bean segments and tomatoes. Mix and smash all the ingredients together. 

Get the Complete (Printable) Som Tum Green Papaya Salad Recipe Below. Enjoy!

adding beans and tomatoes to the mortar

Once the papaya has soaked for at least 10 minutes, drain off the ice and water. Move the papaya to a large salad bowl.

drained shaved papaya

Pour the smashed dressing mixture over the papaya. Toss well to coat.

mixing the som tum ingredients together

Chop the scallion greens and sprinkle over the salad. Sprinkle additional chopped peanuts over the top, if desired.

Chill until ready to serve.

a plate of som tum green papaya salad with tomatoes, beans, and peanuts

What to Serve with Green Papaya Salad

Enjoy Som Tum as a side with classic dishes like Easy Chicken Pad Thai, Tom Yum Soup (Hot and Sour Soup), and Thai Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce.

Use it as a sweet slaw on your favorite east Asian-inspired sandwiches. Try Som Tum on a roll with Sweet Chili Pulled Pork, on a Vietnamese Bahn Mi, or add to Keto Larb Rolls for some extra flavor and crunch.

And don’t forget the Thai Mango Sticky Rice Pudding for dessert!

thai salad on plates with a bowl in the background

Green Papaya Salad Recipe Variations

  • Swap fish sauce with soy sauce or tamari to make a vegetarian and vegan-friendly Thai salad.
  • If you can’t find unripened papaya you can substitute with green unripened mango.
  • As-is this Som Tum recipe has just a bit of heat from the Thai chilies. Use only 1 or 2 of these chilies for a fairly mild version, or include 3 to 4 to really kick up the spiciness.
  • If you can’t or don’t want to use peanuts, swap them with chopped cashews.

Som Tum Storage Suggestions

This recipe is really great for making ahead of time. Kept covered in the refrigerator, Green Papaya Salad will keep well for at least a week.

Prepare a large batch before having friends over for a summer dinner, and save extra to enjoy with lunches all week!

overhead view of som tum green papaya salad

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Som Tum (Thai Green Papaya Salad)

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Authentic Thai Som Tum recipe makes a crunchy, tangy, and sweet Green Papaya Salad that's perfect for summer! Enjoy as an appetizer or light side dish.
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 green papaya hard unripened
  • 4-5 cloves garlic peeled
  • 4-5 scallions green and white ends separated
  • 2-4 thai bird chiles seeded and sliced
  • 3 tablespoon dry roasted peanuts
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 lime zested and juices
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup long beans snake beans, or skinny green beans cut into 1 inch segments
  • 1 plum or roma tomato seeded and chopped

Instructions

  • Prep the Papaya: Use a vegetable peeler to peel the papaya. Then cut the hard flesh into long “julienne” slivers. Do this by using a julienne tool, or by tapping a large chef's knife rapidly over the surface of the papaya, making many slashes in the same direction. Then shave them off, perpendicular to the slashes. You will need 6-7 cups of julienne papaya total.
  • Place the papaya slaw in a large bowl. Then pile ice over the papaya and fill the bowl with cold water. Let the slaw soak in the cold water to firm for 10-15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  • Set out a mortar and pestle. Place the garlic cloves, the white ends of the scallions, and the chopped chiles in the bowl. Use the pestle to smash the ingredients until very soft and broken. Then add in the peanuts and lime zest. Smash and break the peanuts into fine pieces.
  • Now pour in the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, long bean segments and tomatoes. Mix and smash all the ingredients together.
  • Once the papaya has soaked for at least 10 minutes, drain off the ice and water. Move the papaya to a large salad bowl. Pour the dressing mixture over the papaya. Toss well to coat.
  • Chop the scallion greens and sprinkle over the salad. Sprinkle additional chopped peanuts over the top if desired. Chill until ready to serve.

Notes

You can find green papayas, long beans, thai chiles, and fish sauce at all Asian markets, and many large grocery stores with a good “international” section.
This salad can also be made with green mangos.
This recipe is really great for making ahead of time. Kept covered in the refrigerator, Green Papaya Salad will keep well for at least a week.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup, Calories: 77kcal, Carbohydrates: 12g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 747mg, Potassium: 239mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 731IU, Vitamin C: 42mg, Calcium: 35mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Asian, Thai
Author: Sommer Collier

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3 comments on “Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad)”

  1. This looks incredible! I’ve never tried a green papaya before, I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

  2. Can’t believe how much flavor this salad has! It’s so light, but filling & so good! I will be making this all the time!

  3. I love papaya so much, this allows me to have it planned with some of my favorite dinner recipes and I could not be more excited! I love it!