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RECIPE: Thai green papaya salad (som tum)

Looking for a different take on salad? Try this delish dish from Thailand...

Aromatic, easy on the eyes and super tasty, green papaya salad is a staple in almost any Thai banquet. And it's a dish that's surprisingly easy to make, provided you can get to an Asian grocery store for some of the more special ingredients.




  • large green papaya (see Note) or green mango (see Note)
  • 2 tbsp grated palm sugar
  • large garlic cloves
  • red bird’s-eye chillies
  • 1 tbsp dried prawns (see Note) - Optional for vegetarians
  • 1 tbsp roasted peanuts, plus extra, to serve
  • grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (or vegan fish sauce) 
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 100 g green beans, cut into 2.5 cm lengths
  • Curly lettuce leaves, to serve



The dish is designed to be part of a banquet or shared meal.

Finely shred papaya, then soak in iced water. Drain and refrigerate until needed.

Using a large mortar and pestle, pound sugar, garlic and chillies to a rough paste. Add dried prawns and peanuts, and pound until crushed. 

Add tomatoes and gently crush. Add fish sauce, lime juice, papaya, and beans, and toss to combine. Spoon papaya salad into lettuce leaves, to serve.



• Available from Asian food shops.
• Dried prawns are from Asian food shops. If using packet dried prawns, as opposed to buying by the scoop, soak for 20 minutes to soften the hard centre.


Recipe by Amy Chanta


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Published: 20 May 2020

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