Monday, July 23, 2012

Thai green papaya salad (Som Tam)

Anybody who is familiar with Thai cuisine must definitely know about a popular and refreshing salad called Som Tam or green papaya salad. Since I love spicy food, this dish quickly won my heart over as one of my favorite Thai dish. The spicier the dish, the tastier it is for me. My poor husband, who can't tolerate the heat as well as I do, had to drink buckets of water while eating it. Despite the fieriness of the heat, he couldn't resist himself from picking up one bite after another, with occasional sips of water in between.  
The dish itself is so refreshing and flavorful that I could just eat it alone with a bowl of steamed rice without any other entrees. The tartness of green papaya, green beans and the sweet tanginess of cherry tomatoes (freshly grown in my garden) combine wonderfully with the tasty dressing of fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar. All together, they create an unforgettable combination of flavors in your mouth. It's a perfect blend of all flavors- spicy, salty, sweet and sour. This iconic taste of Thai cuisine is utterly scrumptious as well as addictive.
I twisted the original recipe a little by substituting regular dried shrimps with deep-fried dried shrimps to add an additional crunchy texture to the salad. I also sprinkled some chopped mint leaves, that grow abundantly in my garden, to add some aroma to the dish. The result is one colorful and flavor-filled dish that will ultimately win your heart over. 


1/2 lbs of shredded green papaya
1/2 cup of dried shrimps
3 Chinese long beans or 10 green beans (cut into 2 inch long pieces)
1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes
6 heaping teaspoons of palm sugar or brown sugar
5 tsp fish sauce
2 cloves of garlic
1 Thai red chili pepper (more if desired)
Juice of 1 lime
Roasted peanuts (coarsely ground)
Chopped mint leaves


Soak dried shrimp in some lukewarm water for 15 min, drain. Deep fry the dried shrimps in oil for 5-7 min until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oil and drain in paper towels.

In a mortar, pound garlic, chili peppers, sugar, lime juice and fish sauce with the pestle until it forms a slightly thick concoction.

Toss in long beans, cherry tomatoes and bruise them slightly with the pestle. Finally add in shredded papaya, pound gently enough to combine the vegetables with the dressing.

Dish out the salad in a plate, sprinkle with mint leaves. Top it off with crispy dried shrimps and ground roasted peanuts. Enjoy!

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