Som Tam Thai (Green Papaya Salad)

Som Tam Thai (Green Papaya Salad)

The first and only dish anyone has ever taught me was Som Tam…

This recipe begins with a vibrant Thai woman whom I call Mrs. Pam. Although she claims to be sixty seven this year, she looks as though she is in her early forties and prances around as if she is in her twenties. Mrs. Pam’s small build and nimble movements, according to her, is largely due to the healthy diet of the Thai people.

Two years ago, Mrs. Pam welcomed me into her home for dinner. I imagined Pad Thai dancing on top of a flaming wok, the aroma of curry and jasmine rice mingling in the air or maybe a coconut milk infused soup. Instead, I walked into an aroma-less kitchen. The floor was lined with outdated newspapers and super market ads. I recall glancing over the make shift cover in confusion; sugar, garlic, chilies, limes and a papaya that was obviously too raw to eat. Although the conversation we had is a blur to me, the lesson stuck. Recipes were made to be broken.

“How much do I use of each ingredient?” I asked in utter disarray. She simply and confidently answered, “As much as you want.” Needless to say, my Som Tam tasted like a spicy Jolly Rancher. Not my proudest moment. Mrs. Pam taught me that recipes are just guides and flavors are going to be received differently by everyone. The recipe that follows is my preferred way of enjoying this salad; please change to your personal tastes.

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Som Tam Thai (Green Papaya Salad)
Print Recipe
Special Equipment: Papaya Shredder, Clay Mortar, and Wooden Pestle.
Servings Prep Time
2 People 10 Minutes
Cook Time
5 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 People 10 Minutes
Cook Time
5 Minutes
Som Tam Thai (Green Papaya Salad)
Print Recipe
Special Equipment: Papaya Shredder, Clay Mortar, and Wooden Pestle.
Servings Prep Time
2 People 10 Minutes
Cook Time
5 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 People 10 Minutes
Cook Time
5 Minutes
Ingredients
Servings: People
Instructions
  1. In a small pan, roast the dried shrimp over medium heat (5 minutes).
  2. Place the bird's eye chili, garlic and palm sugar into the mortar and pound until you have a chunky texture (5-10 seconds).
  3. Add the lime wedges to the mortar and pound to release the juice (3-5 seconds).
  4. Add dried shrimp and pound lightly (3-5 seconds).
  5. Add the long bean and pound lightly to bruise, be careful not to flatten.
  6. Add the lime juice, fish sauce, raw papaya and carrot. Pound to bruise while lightly tossing the mixture with a spoon.
  7. Add the cherry tomatoes and pound lightly, be careful not to flatten.
  8. Mix in the peanuts. Plate and enjoy!
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