Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam) is the most popular salad in Thailand and is especially loved by Thai women - perhaps because or not it's low in calories and fat, but very high in style and eating satisfaction, helping you stay slim. This salad recipe is crunchy-delicious, whether served as a side dish/appetizer, or as the leading course. Cooked shrimp or crab meat can be added (or cashews if vegetarian), or try eating it as they do in Thailand: with a bowl of sticky rice. ENJOY!
What You'll Need :
1/2 green papaya (see buying instructions under)
1- 2 cups bean sprouts
1/2 English cucumber (sliced into matchstick-like pieces)
2 tomatoes (cut into skinny wedges or strips)
3 green onions (cut into matchstick-like pieces)
1/2 cup fresh coriander
1/3 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts (flooring or chopped)
Optional: 3/4 to 1 cup cooked shrimp (or crab meat; if vegetarian: add 1/2 to 1 cup fried tofu)
For the Dressing:
3-4 cloves garlic (minced)
2 tablespoons lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
3 Tbsp. fish sauce (or 4 Tbsp. soy sauce if vegetarian)
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1-2 Tbsp. liquid honey (to style)
1 tsp. shrimp paste (or 1 tsp. flooring bean sauce if vegetarian)
1-2 Thai red chilies (or 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili)
How to Make It:
Shopping Tip: For this salad, that you would be able to try searching for a perfectly green papaya at your grocery store (either 2 Hawaiian papayas or 1 Caribbean kind). However, I recommend buying one at an Asian store, simply because or not it's hard to tell whether a papaya is basically green or in one of the stages of ripening. Asian shops and markets sell green papayas labeled as such.
Sometimes they are even sliced open so that you would be able to work out it is green inside (the seeds will be white).
At this point, Thai cooks perform an optional step, bashing the shredded papaya with a pestle to bring out the juice. Another way is to place the shredded papaya in a food processor and pulse briefly.
Stir all "dressing" ingredients together. This dressing ought to be tangy - a combination of sweet, sour, spicy and salty, but greater sweet than sour (this will help balance out the sharpness of the papaya).
Slice the papaya in half lengthwise and crack it open. Scrape out the seeds and discard. Then turn over each half and peel off the green skin.
Use a huge-size grater to grate the papaya, or shred it as they do in Thailand: simply make many lengthy cuts into the flesh, then thinly slice off the head layer into a bowl (to work out what this looks like, go to How to Shred Green Papaya.
Combine the green papaya with the whole other salad ingredients in a huge bowl, reserving the peanuts and half the fresh basil for toppings. Pour over the dressing and toss well.
Taste-test the salad. If you'd prefer it saltier, add greater fish sauce or soy sauce. If you'd prefer it sweeter, drizzle over a little greater honey. Toss again.
Portion out into bowls and top with the flooring peanuts plus reserved basil. ENJOY!
Serving Suggestion: In Thailand, Green Papaya Salad is nearly always eaten with a side of sticky rice OR coconut rice. To make sticky rice, see: How to Make Sticky Rice (stovetop recipe), OR Easy Sticky Rice Recipe (made in a rice cooker).