And today I would like to share with you one of my favourite dishes, which I got to love during my Thailand years – it is Papaya Salad or Som Tum as Thais call it.
It is an unbelievably tasty dish, and it goes best with BBQ chicken I must admit, exactly the way Thais eat it. They serve it everywhere, in restaurants, cafes, on the beach, in their homes, and they eat nearly every day. Of course they eat it very spicy, sometimes adding up to 20 chillies, but for me one chilli is good enough
This is how it’s usually served in Thailand – Som Tum with BBQ chicken and BBQ sticky rice. One of the best street foods I’ve tried so far!
I must admit that it is much harder to find a green papaya in UK than in Thailand where it grows in abundance. But thanks to Asian shops, it is hard but not impossible to get it here.
To peel papaya I use a simple tool, which you can buy in kitchenware shops and online. I even have 2 of them, blue and red, one I bought myself and another one was given to me by my Thai friend.
The best dish for making this salad would be a pestle and mortar. Quite a large mortar I must say if you make salad for the family. I brought my last mortar from Thailand, a proper clay one, really big and heavy as well! Unfortunately I have never mastered an art of travelling light – always manage to find a million things to take with me!
To make a salad you will need quite a few Asian ingredients, so I would advise you to go straight to the Asian shop where you can buy all of them together instead of making a separate trip to supermarket.
One ingredient is optional – I personally don’t like it and don’t use it but some people do. It is dried shrimps. I just never got used to them, even though I do like fresh shrimps. I also didn’t put the green beans this last time since I didn’t have them, although usually I add them.
So, here is the recipe.
Thai Papaya Salad - Som Tum
- 3 Garlic cloves
- 3 bird's eye chillies
- 40 g roasted peanuts
- 9-10 cherry tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce (use less or more to your taste)
- 2 tablespoons palm sugar
- 4-5 tablespoons lime juice
- 30 g dried shrimps ( you can omit them as I did)
- 250 g sliced green papaya
- 4-5 green beans, cut into 2 cm pieces.
- Using pestle and mortar, pound the garlic, chillies and dried shrimps (if you use them) to nearly a paste-like state.
- Keep pounding, mixing the paste with cherry tomatoes, fish sauce, palm sugar and lime juice.
- Mix well, then add papaya.
- Pound a bit more, then add green beans and roasted peanuts.
- Best served with BBQ chicken or other meat/fish. Or enjoy it as a side dish to your meal.