Som Tam with Vermicelli

Som Tam with Vermicelli

If you have never had som tam, or commonly referred to as Thai papaya salad, then you are missing out in my opinion. It is probably one of my most, let’s say top 25 foods, favorite of all time. You never really see it on many menus, at least in my area, so it’s often best to gather up a handful of great Asian ingredients and attempt at making it your own. My wife probably thinks I’m a nut at times as I have a lot of Asian ingredients in my pantry and refrigerator, but when it ever comes time to whip up a great ethnic meal, I’m stocked and ready. Som tam is essentially a salad made from unripened papaya. You peel the exterior skin of the papaya, then shred the interior into thin strips, of which get lightly pounded with chilies, lime, garlic, shrimp, tomatoes and fish sauce. It’s the perfect balance of Thai flavors which result in spicy, sweet, sour, and savory. To me, this dish is so addicting, and delicious that it has you craving it like no other.

Som Tam with Vermicelli

With that said, the addition of rice vermicelli elevates this sam tam like no other. I don’t know why I’ve never used the vermicelli in this som tam before, but I don’t think I am going to look back. The noodles make this dish even better, and when you are not using sticky rice, then this is a perfect pairing.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 unripe green papaya, peeled, and shredded
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • 4 Thai bird chilies, stems removed (add more/less for heat)
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste, or dried shrimp
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 whole lime, quartered
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1 roma tomato, sliced
  • 1/2 lb rice vermicelli, cooked
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, optional

Start by cooking your rice vermicelli. You can find this at your local Asian market. Cook until al dente, then drain, and rinse with cold water. Once cooled and drained, set aside into a bowl.

Som tam is typically made with an Asian mortar and pestle, and you can also pick this up at any local Asian market. It’s a standard in my house, not only for making som tam, but also fresh salsas on occasion.

Add the garlic, and chilies to the to bottom of the mortar. With the pestle, start mashing up the garlic and chilies, almost into a paste. Add the half of the lime, and continue to mash. Add the tomatoes, and lightly smash those as well. Use a spoon as you are mashing with the pestle, mixing along the way. Add the palm sugar, and shrimp paste, and continue to mix and mash. Add the shredded papaya, along with the fish sauce, and continue to lightly bruise the papaya, mixing along the way.

How to make som tam with noodles

When you are ready to serve, add a handful of the rice vermicelli to the bottom of a serving bowl, and top with the som tam mixture. Top with roasted peanuts. Use a fork and spoon to mix everything together, and then dig in.

Everything screams Thai with this recipe. Again, it’s spicy, sour, sweet, and overall, addicting. You want to talk about a great side dish, or heck, even main dish for that matter, then this is it. I remember turning my coworkers onto this som tam (without the vermicelli) a couple of years ago, and they have still talked about it to this day. Simple ingredients. Huge impact. Add the vermicelli next time you make som tam, and let me know what you think. Hope you enjoy!

Som Tam with Vermicelli
Author: 
Recipe type: Salads
Cuisine: Thai
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 unripe green papaya, peeled, and shredded
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • 4 Thai bird chilies, stems removed (add more/less for heat)
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste, or dried shrimp
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 whole lime, quartered
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1 roma tomato, sliced
  • ½ lb rice vermicelli, cooked
  • ¼ cup roasted peanuts, optional
Instructions
  1. Start by cooking your rice vermicelli. You can find this at your local Asian market. Cook until al dente, then drain, and rinse with cold water. Once cooled and drained, set aside into a bowl.
  2. Som tam is typically made with an Asian mortar and pestle, and you can also pick this up at any local Asian market. It’s a standard in my house, not only for making som tam, but also fresh salsas on occasion.
  3. Add the garlic, and chilies to the to bottom of the mortar. With the pestle, start mashing up the garlic and chilies, almost into a paste. Add the half of the lime, and continue to mash. Add the tomatoes, and lightly smash those as well. Use a spoon as you are mashing with the pestle, mixing along the way. Add the palm sugar, and shrimp paste, and continue to mix and mash. Add the shredded papaya, along with the fish sauce, and continue to lightly bruise the papaya, mixing along the way.
  4. When you are ready to serve, add a handful of the rice vermicelli to the bottom of a serving bowl, and top with the som tam mixture. Top with roasted peanuts. Use a fork and spoon to mix everything together, and then dig in.

 

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