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som tam papaya salad

Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

Joda Thongnopnua
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Thai
Servings 1 person


  • Mortar and pestle (*See Recipe Notes)
  • Mixing bowls


  • 1 unripe green papaya, julienned or peeled
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 Thai chilies (reduce to taste)
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar
  • 2 tbsp roasted, salted peanuts (plus extra for serving)
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 ½ tbsp fish sauce
  • cup cherry tomatoes, halved


  • Soak papaya in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes. Drain and place in a bowl lined with paper towels to absorb remaining water.
  • Using a mortar and pestle, pound garlic and chilies until well mashed. Add palm sugar and muddle with the pestle until it turns into a coarse, wet paste. Add peanuts and pound to lightly crush them. Add lime juice and fish sauce and stir with a spoon to dissolve the sugar further.
  • Transfer the dressing to a larger mixing bowl. Add drained papaya and tomatoes and toss together with the dressing. Press on the tomatoes slightly with the pestle to gently bruise them, until they release a small amount of tomato juice into the salad.
  • Plate salad and garnish with additional peanuts.


*"This papaya salad may seem a little intimidating at first, but it’s absolutely delicious! The directions assume you have a mortar and pestle (easily found in an Asian grocery store, along with the other ingredients), but if you don’t have one, you can make do by finely mincing the garlic and chilies, finely mincing the palm sugar, and mixing them together with a little warm water.”
Joda Thongnopnua, Chattanooga
Keyword appetizer recipe, green papaya salad, papaya, salad, salad for one, som tam, som tam papaya salad