Thai Green Papaya Salad, 'Som Tum'

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Green papaya salad is loved throughout SE Asia in various forms, and we are pleased to present this detailed recipe so you can bring it to your own kitchen. Somtum is a classic Thai dish, commonly associated with the NE (Isaan) area but served all over Thailand, for example here at a sidewalk shop found on our walking tour of good eats in Saochingcha area.

Also see our new feature How To Make Different Versions of Som Tum.

Somtum is typically prepared three different ways. It can be "Somtum Thai" which has peanuts mixed in, "Somtum Bu" which has small pickled crabs pounded in, or "Somtum Lao sai pla ra" which includes the juice of pickled mudfish.

We also offer a very simple pre-made som tum sauce that you can add to the papaya, for quick preparation. Also see our newest Som Tum product: Som Tum Powder.

See our new feature story on a modern take on Som Tum: Jungle Salad.


2 cups shredded fresh green papaya, use a Pro-Slice Thai peeler or Miracle Knife.
3 medium roma tomatoes, or use a few more if you can find cherry tomatoes
A handful of fresh string beans cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons dried shrimp
4-6 fresh Thai chiles, remove stems
3-4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons palm sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons juice of pickled mud fish (optional)


Peel fresh green papaya, rinse the white milk off, pat dry, then shred the whole papaya. Sprinkle with a bit of salt then rinse it off and drain. Keep 2 cups shredded papaya out, and put the rest in a sealed container for later use. Slice tomatoes thinly. In a clay Lao-style mortar & pestle, coarsely pound the fresh chiles (whole) and garlic. Add string beans and sliced tomato, and pound it lightly (do not over-crush). Add dried shrimp, fish sauce, palm sugar and lime juice. Add these items spoon-by-spoon, and taste as you go. If you want to add peanuts, add now and lightly pound (optional). If you want to add pickled mud fish (pla ra), add two tablespoons of juice (optional). Add shredded papaya and pound together until mixed well. Serve on a dish with fresh cabbage and string beans on the side. Enjoy!

NEW: Som Tum Sauces.

Here are two authentic sauces from Mae Pranom to make a great tasting Som Tum. These take out all of the guesswork, as you just need to add this to your green papaya for an instant som tum.

The "Fermented Fish" version (green label) is, according to the Thai staff at, only for Thai people (non-Thai will not like it!). We believe there must be some non-Thai people who can enjoy it? It is very smelly, and the taste is "Super Real". This is as authentic Thai as it gets, and no doubt a true flavor that your local restaurant will not likely serve.

The fermented fish used in this sauce is called "pla ra", a northeastern relish made by fermenting fish with salt and roasted rice.

A lot of people in Thailand do not like pla ra in their somtum, so Mae Pranom has a non-stinky version as well. The blue label version more mainstream som tum salad dressing that is equally authentic and delicious.

Packed in a beautiful glass bottle with attractive label, Mae Pranom is a very large producer employing the highest quality standard.

Ingredients / Green Label: fermented fish 50%, fish sauce 30%, sugar 10%, shrimp paste 5%, salt 5%. No artificial color, no msg, no preservatives. Product of Thailand.

Ingredients / Blue Label: fish sauce 60%, sugar 20%, tamarind 10%, distilled vinegar 5%, lime powder 5%. No artificial color, no msg, no preservatives. Product of Thailand.

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MSG H. G. Robby Robinson
March 17th, 2010
6:39 PM
The addition of "Crab" as mentioned in the video may be confusing to some (no pun intended) or misleading. "Poo Ken" is the traditional method as far as Bangkok is concerned as well as up country, but I imagine it is difficult to obtain in the USA unless you live in an area with a large Thai Expat community. Now since I live along the Gulf Coast of Florida, I have no problems obtaining crab. I do not now thew method of turning crab into Poo Kem. Is there a recipe available? Thanks. MSG Robby "Taksin" Robinson Pensacola, FL Part time resident. Pratet Thai
April 23rd, 2010
3:44 AM
hi guys, mum made a version of this. really good! gee koh
April 28th, 2010
2:47 PM
this is the papaya salad that asians only make you got to try it. it is awesome
May 12th, 2010
3:57 PM
I really love this recipe, give me some update on new recipe and thank you so much.
August 3rd, 2010
4:32 AM
i have tried this salad at a Thailandisch party ..its the bomb!!
Matt Parkinson
October 12th, 2010
12:24 PM
I think I've started a Som Tam (Som Tum) revolution in Lincolnshire...everyone seems to love it and its one of the best recipes I brought back from my travels in Thailand. I love to put peanuts in at an early stage and crush them with the chilli and garlic. I found papaya at a local chinese supermarket but they are about £4-£5 each, so not good in this economic climate. I now use grated carrot to a similar effect which works brilliantly! I recently made a thai banquet for friends and did Som Tam as a self-serve option with the pestle and mortar in the middle of the table - guests can then choose how much chilli, garlic fish sauce etc they want - everyone loved it and it was great fun!
April 24th, 2012
12:41 PM
We also enjoyed Som Tam on our recent four month stay in Thailand plus we also found one eatery who did a very similar dish but with Cucumber, again very delicious. We are lucky and can buy Thai ingredients in neatrby Canterbury, Kent.
Ann B.
May 8th, 2012
12:10 PM
Love this dish.
May 6th, 2014
1:21 PM
Lovely and very easy. Just back from Thailand love this website. Found all my favourite recipes and all are just as I ate last week lol thank you thaitable

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