Given it’s virtually impossible to find green papaya – even at the most selected Asian grocers – if you see them in stock grab them like it’s Ryan Gosling. They are just as delicious (I assume) and just as hard to come by (I know). These are treated like gold in my kitchen and is the easiest winner of a side dish, starter or lunch to put together. Given you’re already at the Asian grocers, go buy yourself this special peeler that all the Thai’s use to make this dish. You can thank me later.
Som Tam: Thai Green Papaya Salad
Serves 4-6 as a side salad
- 1 large green papaya – see note
- 1 carrot
- Handful of green beans, quartered
- Punnet of cherry tomatoes, quartered
- Handful of chopped coriander
- 1-2 red chillies,chopped finely
- Handful of chopped peanuts
- 1tbs palm sugar, chopped finely
- 4tbs fish sauce
- 1tbs tamarind paste
- 1tbs hot water
- 1 clove of garlic
- Juice from 1 lemon
If you managed to find the peeler I showed you above then hats off – you’re already a winner. Peel your carrot and papaya using this then chuck into a big bowl. If not, either cut them suuuuper finely or use a grater or normal peeler (the texture will be a bit different but the flavour will be as yum).
Bring a small pot of water to the boil and blanch the green beans for 10 seconds only (you still want crunch) then drain and leave to cool off before adding to the carrot/papaya mix. Add the tomato, coriander, chillies and peanuts.
In a cup, mix the dressing ingredients together until the palm sugar starts to dissolve then pour over the veg bowl and mix through. Easy does it.
Traditionally, this should have dried shrimp in it but i’m not really a fan so have made it vegetarian (except for the fish sauce). If you’re keen just add in dried or fresh little shrimp to the salad to beef it up a bit.
Green papaya is not substitutable here I’m afraid. Your Asian grocer is likely to be the only place stocking them. Call ahead though as they are seasonal.