Som tam, the ever-popular Thai spicy papaya salad, is ranked fifth in the latest list of the top 500 best dishes according to the Lonely Planet Travel Guide for travelers ‘The Ultimate Eat-list’ is a ranking of the top 500 foodie experiences from all over the world.
The top 10 best dishes are: pintxos from San Sebastian, Spain; curry laksa from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; sushi from Tokyo, Japan; beef brisket from Texas, USA; Som tum (or Som tam) from Thailand; smorrebrod from Copenhagen, Denmark; crayfish from Kaikoura, New Zealand; bibimbap from Seoul, South Korea; pizza Margherita from Naples, Italy; and dim sum from Hong Kong. The list was drawn up by expert food editors of Lonely Planet who enlisted the help of chef Adam Liaw and food blogger Leyla Kazim to rank the entries, according to the editors.
The entries were evaluated according to the taste, cultural importance and the special atmosphere of the location. – Bangkok Post About Som Tam Thai green papaya salad, which in Thailand is known as as som tam (ส้มตำ), is one of the most commonly available and popularly consumed dishes in Thailand. Som tam (ส้มตำ) originates in the northeastern part of the Thailand (Isaan), which is on the border of Laos, where the same dish is a staple as well.
You’ll now find green papaya salad everywhere throughout Thailand, and on just about every street corner in Bangkok.
- 5 cherry tomatoes
- 2 chili peppers
- 1 tablespoon dried shrimp
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 carrot
- 1 clove garlic
- 6 green beans
- 2 cups shredded green papaya
- 3/4 lime
- 1 1/2 tablespoons palm sugar
- 2 tablespoons toasted peanuts
The Dressing (palm sugar)
One of the main dressing ingredients for this Thai green papaya salad recipe is palm sugar which balances the sour lime juice of the dressing.
Freshly roasted peanuts are another one of the necessary ingredients when making Thai green papaya salad. For the best taste get raw peanuts and roast them myself, so they have a nice fresh crunchiness to them. However, you just use any kind of roasted peanuts, just roasted and unsalted.
The Green Papaya
When you think of a papaya, you might think of an orange colored fruit with little black seeds in the middle that’s extremely sweet. But green papayas (which are literally papayas that are picked unripe, so they are hard and green), not only appear completely green, but they taste completely different. They almost have a neutral cucumber like flavour. A green papaya can’t be compared to anything for the texture. The locals are inclined to utter – “papaya, pock, pock”, during this process! To prepare the green papaya, first you want to peel off the outer dark green skin.
Then either using something like a cheese grater, or chopping it manually with a knife you need to julienne your green papaya. When you get closer to the center, you will see the white immature seeds inside. Stop and move onto another part of the papaya. Discard any seeds that got into your bowl. The dish is made using a wooden pestle and a spatula. Smash a clove of garlic first. Then add green beans and halved cherry tomatoes. Pound a few times just to bruise the beans and get the juice out of the tomatoes.
Add chili peppers and crush them just enough to release the hotness, unless you like your salad really hot. Add the green papaya, dried shrimp, toasted peanuts, fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar. Use the pestle to push the mixture up in the mortar and the spatula to push it down so that the mixture is mixed well. If you do not have a big enough mortar you can crush garlic, tomatoes and green beans first. Set them aside in a large bowl. Add dried shrimp, fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar to the bowl. Add green papaya and mix well. Serve with sticky rice and a sliver of cabbage, green beans and Thai basil.
Tips and Techniques
For a vegetarian som tum, omit the dried shrimp and substitute soy sauce for fish sauce. Some people use tamarind in place of lime. Regular sugar can be substituted for palm sugar. The balance of fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar and peppers listed are important. Som tum is an individual dish with some including more lime juice than what the recipe calls for. This Thai green papaya salad is easy to prepare and tastes delicious.