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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Recipe: Som Tam

Asia, Thailand
30 minutes



Som Tam, or Green Papaya Salad, is a very common dish eaten throughout Thailand. It originated in Laos and Issan, but now the whole country enjoys it. This version does not add fermented crab or fermented fish paste ( plaa-raa ) which is common in Issan. Feel free to add that if you want! This dish is easily made vegetarian by omitting the dried shrimp and substituting salt for the fish sauce. 

Materials & Procedures


  1. 1 tsp whole garlic cloves
  2. 2-10 small Thai chilies, to taste
  3. 1 T palm sugar
  4. 1 T fish sauce, or ½ tsp. salt
  5. 1 long bean, broken into 1.5" pieces
  6. 1 tomato
  7. 2 tsp. lime juice
  8. 1 c shredded green papaya
  9. 3 T dry roasted peanuts
  10. 1 T dried shrimp


  1. First prepare the papaya by peeling the dark green skin. Then hold the papaya in your hand, and smack the fruit lengthwise with a good sized knife. You want to create 1/2? or so deep cuts into the fruit. Do this over and over until you've created a good number of cuts. Watch your fingers!
  2. Next, cut the papaya lengthwise to produce long strips. You can also buy tools which can create long shreds, or even use a cheese grater (the big holes). Thai people use the knife method, though!
  3. In a ceramic mortar and pestle, add the whole garlic cloves and chili peppers. Pound with the pestle a few times to mash, then add the long beans. Pound a few more times, and add a pinch of papaya. This helps mix the garlic and chili peppers. Pound some more.
  4. Add the palm sugar and fish sauce or salt and pound more. Make sure everything is well mixed.
  5. Add the tomato, chopped into large pieces. Pound more, but not as hard. Add the lime juice, dried shrimp, and the rest of the papaya. Pound about 10 to 15 times while mixing with a spoon. You want to evenly coat the papaya with the juices while pounding the flavor into the papaya, but don't pound so hard that the papaya disintegrates.
  6. Add the peanuts, mix and serve.

About the Author

Nipawan Sawatdipanich

This recipe was submitted to World Wise Schools by Nipawan Sawatdipanich, Training Assistant, Peace Corps/Thailand.

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