Hello papagena Tu es bella comme la papaya!
Do you like Papaya because it is beautiful and tastes good? Green Papaya, not the ripe papaya (orange/yellow). It may look like cucumber, but it is not! You can make a nice beautiful green papaya to be a nice salad or side dish.
"Som Tam" = Thai green papaya salad, originated in Lao (Tam Som= pounded sour). It is a common dish in Southeast Asia. Thai salad usually has five tastes : sour (lime juice), spicy (hot chili), salty (fish sauce) and sweet (palm sugar).
- Green papaya (unripe papaya has sour taste)
- Thai fish sauce (it cannot be replaced with Japanese soy sauce)
**please buy very high quality one because you have to eat this salad sauce.
- Thai chili (red and green-->colorful)
- Lime juice (it can be mixed with tamarind sauce)
- Peanuts (for peanut allergies: it can be replaced with cashew nuts or walnuts, but it cannot be replaced with hazelnuts-->too strong hazelnuts taste)
- Dried shrimps
- Palm sugar or Coconut sugar (mix of palm sugar and sugar cane-->softer than palm sugar which is easier to crush).
The fresh ingredients are mixed and pounded in a stone or earthenware mortar with pestle (crushing and mixing).
If you do not have mortar, you can use a glass bowl (salad bowl) that is big enough to mix ingredients.
Firstly, you must prepare green papaya strips like this.
As the main ingredient is green papaya strips (not dice), it should be cold and contains at least 50% of other ingredients or mixed with carrots strips.
There are some variations of Som Tam in which other ingredients are added (salty crabs, fermented fishes) or some ingredients are eliminated (no peanuts or no shrimps). For example, No green papaya? use this as replacement-->cabbage turnips, carrots, cucumber...
Cabbage turnips have similar color like green papaya, but it tastes different. If you use cucumber strips, it is a bit softer than papaya strips, but it tastes good too.
After mixing the cucumber strips with other ingredients, it looks like this:
Som Tam is usually served with sticky rice and fresh vegetables. It can be combined with grilled chicken and other side dishes.
How to eat? Usually, not with chopsticks. It is common to use clean hand to take sticky rice and fork for taking green papaya. Sometimes they join the same dish, then do not dip sticky rice on it, use spoon to take into your plate and now you can dip sticky rice in the sauce.
You can eat whatever you like only when the whole plate is yours ( Eating with hand). If you have never tried this dish before, take this instant green papaya salad spices powder (no MSG), so that you know how it should taste. You can change to fit your taste later. It consists of sugar, salt, dried fish sauce, dried tamarind powder, dried lime juice, dried chili, garlic.
It contains some spices that you may not have them at home. However, you still need to add some more fresh vegetables.
If you still want to make with all fresh ingredients. Here is an alternative seasonings of making Som Tam:
After mixing all fresh ingredients and seasonings. The sauce looks different, depending on what you add in it.
Have fun with crushing papaya and be creative!