Light, fresh, and tangy, som tam is everything that you’re looking for in a fun salad. A signature dish in any Thai restaurant, this fun meal starter composed of green beans, papaya strips, tomatoes, chilies, and peanuts can easily make anyone salivate with delight especially with its sweet-sour-tangy dressing. Serve it on a hot day or as a meal starter for an intimate gathering.
Makes 2-4 servings
1 Unripe green papaya
2 Tbsps Unsalted roasted peanuts
2 Tbsps Palm sugar
2 Tbsps Water
1-2 Bird’s eye chilies
2 cloves Garlic, peeled
1 Tbsp Dried baby shrimps
3 Native tomatoes or about 7 cherry tomatoes
Juice of ½ lime
1-2 Tbsps Thai snake beans or green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1½ Tbsps Fish sauce
- Peel the papaya and shred it with a grater or a mandoline slicer into thin strips. Soak grated papaya in cold water while preparing the rest of the ingredients. This step gets rid of any excess starch and makes the papaya more crunchy.
- Next, roughly peanuts with a mortar and pestle. Set aside. Wipe the mortar and pestle clean.
- Melt palm sugar and water in a small pan over low to medium heat to form a thick syrup. This makes it easier to mix the sugar with the salad.
- Take the chilies and peeled garlic and give them a gentle pounding with the mortar and pestle. Leave bits and pieces, without turning it into a paste. Add the dried shrimps and continue to pound. Add the crushed peanuts and mix well.
- Add the shredded papaya and continue pounding, but not too hard -just enough for the mixture to soak up the flavors. Use a bigger spoon as a support tool to shift the salad in the mortar, without spilling over while pounding. Add the liquid palm sugar, tomatoes, beans, lime juice, and fish sauce. Continue to pound lightly and mix a little more.
- Transfer to a big dish or bowl and sprinkle crushed peanuts on top just before serving.
Recipe by Chef James Worrasaran and Chef James Bon of Thai Dara