Thai Papaya Salad Recipe (Som Tam)

Thai Papaya Salad or Som Tam is popular throughout Southeast Asia. It's a refreshing, healthy salad that combines sweet, sour, salty, and spicy into one harmonious dish. Making Papaya Salad is more of an art than a science, and you will quickly settle on your own balance of ingredients to make it to your taste. This recipe is designed to be a good starting point to try out first.
Everyone has their own recipe, and word of street vendors who make good Papaya Salad gets around quickly and they build a loyal following, much like pizza places in the west.
Papaya salad has three basic types:
  • Som Tam Thai, which has roasted peanuts mixed in it. (this recipe)
    Som Tam Thai
  • Som Tam Bu, which has pickled crabs pounded in it.
    Som Tam Bu
  • Som Tam Pa Ra, which has the juice of pickled mud-fish in it.
Som Tam Pa Ra

My personal favorite Papaya Salad is Som Tam Lao and Som Tam Thai. My mom likes Som Tam Lao and she's from Issan (North East Thailand) and my dad likes Som Tam Thai, he's from from Central Thailand so I got to eat and make both kinds growing up. Pickled mud-fish is definately an acquired taste, so we've decided to present the peanut version instead.
Papaya Salad really needs to be prepared using a mortar and pestle. When I was a little girl, my mom told me if I broke the mortar while making Papaya Salad, I have to dance around the outside of the house as punishment, so be careful because Americans have big houses.
Recipe Info.
  • For: 1-2
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 5 minutes


  • Mortar
  • Pestle


  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 chilies - or as much as you like.
  • ¼ cup roasted peanuts
  • ½ cup tomatos
  • ½ cup green beans
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 2 cups of shredded green papaya
  • Shred green papaya
  • Slice tomatos
  • Chop green beans
  • Slice Lime
  • Put garlic and chili peppers into mortar, smash it into small pieces
  • Add peanuts, smash it into small pieces
  • Add palm sugar, pound it until it mixes well together
  • Add lime, fish sauce, pound it until it mixes well
  • Add green papaya and green bean and pound until it mixes well

  • Garnish with roasted peanuts