Green Papaya Salad (aka Som Tum) combines sweet, sour, salty, and spices perfectly balanced for the palette. This low-cost, low-calorie, nutritious salad is easy to make and an impressive dish that only takes about an hour from start to finish. Adding grilled shrimp makes this salad a completely satisfying meal. I served the salad without any shrimp; peanuts were the protein.
Green papaya is one of those super fruits whose nutritional benefits are endless. Reading up, I realized it offers similar benefits to cocoa, plus it’s full of digestive enzymes for your stomach and works wonders for the skin.
How to Make Green Papaya Salad
First, Prepare Green Papaya:
- Green Papaya looks like an overgrown bright green avocado. You can’t walk into “just any” grocery store to find it. You may need to go to a specialty market.
- When you find whole green papaya, the papaya can be peeled with a potato peeler and shredded using a regular cheese grater (use the larger holes).
- Or peel the skin and use a knife to chop the surface, then peel off the grass-like fruit in a non-uniform fashion, as shown above. Many Asian supermarkets sell pre-shredded green papaya, packaged and ready to go.
Prepare the Green Papaya Salad Dressing:
- Smash garlic clove.
- Chop and crush chili peppers just enough to release some heat.
- Add fish sauce, oil, lime juice, and honey to the bowl.
- Whisk to emulsify the ingredients slightly.
To Assemble salad:
- In a large bowl, combine halved tomatoes, green beans, scallions, carrots, and bean sprouts.
- Add dried shrimp.
- Toss in some dressing and mix.
- Next is adding the green papaya, cilantro, and basil.
- Add balance of dressing, tossing well to combine.
- Top the salad off with toasted peanuts.
- Use your hands to combine. Serve on a bed of lettuce leaves and garnish with Thai basil.
You can make this salad ahead of time by combining all ingredients except the nuts and the dressing. Cover well and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Add the dressing and peanuts at the last minute, toss, and serve.
My local grocer did not carry green papaya, so I headed to an Asian market.
You can buy green papaya that has already been peeled and julienned at your local Asian market, which saves a lot of time and effort, but it was fun making this at home, and I appreciated the freshness of the green papaya that I cut by hand. If the tutorial above is too difficult to follow, try this.
Adapting our Thai Green Papaya Salad Recipe
A recipe is not perfect until you’ve added your touch. That’s why we encourage you to play with your food. Call your inner chef to come out and play and change up this Papaya Salad recipe. Here are some ideas:
- Blend in other fresh shellfish like lobster or scallops
- Skip the shellfish and top with seared and spicy flank steak
- Replace peanuts with Marcona Almonds
Green Papaya Salad
For the Salad
- 3 c green papaya shredded
- 15 cherry tomatoes halved
- 20 green beans blanched and julienned
- 3 scallions cut into long matchstick-like pieces
- 1 c bean sprouts
- 1 c carrots julienne
- 1/2 c cilantro chopped
- 1/2 c thai basil fresh leaves left whole or chopped
- 1 tbsp. dried shrimp
- 2 tbsp. peanuts toasted
- lettuce leaves for serving
- 8 grilled shrimp optional
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 chili peppers seeds removed, to taste
- 2 tbsp. fish sauce
- 2 tbsp. olive oil extra virgin
- 1 lime juiced
- 2 tbsp. Waxing Kara Honey
Prepare Green Papaya:
- If you can only find whole green papaya, the papaya can be peeled with a potato peeler and shredded using a regular cheese grater (use the larger holes). Or peel the skin and use a knife to chop the surface, then peel off the grass-like fruit in a non-uniform fashion as shown above. Many Asian supermarkets have pre-shredded green papaya, ready to go.
- Smash garlic clove. Chop and crush chili peppers just enough to release some heat. Add fish sauce, oil, lime juice and honey to the bowl. Whisk to slightly emulsify the ingredients.
To make salad:
- In a large bowl, combine halved tomatoes and green beans, scallions, carrots, bean sprouts. Add dried shrimp. Add some dressing and mix.
- Add the green papaya, cilantro and most of the basil. Add balance of dressing, tossing well to combine.
- Add toasted peanuts. Use your hands to combine. Serve on a bed of lettuce leaves and garnish with Thai basil.
Make Ahead Tip:
- You can make this salad ahead of time by combining all ingredients except the nuts and the dressing. Cover well and refrigerate several hours, or overnight. Add the dressing and peanuts at the last minute, toss and serve.