Som Tam Recipe – Thai Papaya Salad

After spending a lovely day with my wife, I decided to invite my in-laws over for a Mother’s Day dinner. Seeing that my father-in-law is Filipino, I decided to make his yummy barbecue recipe, my egg rolls, a thai papaya salad that will rock your socks off, pancit with chicken and shrimp, and curry mussels. Sounds like a lot. It was.
Som Tam Recipe
I started off the family with a dozen or so egg rolls that I wrapped a few weeks back. My father-n-law said these were better than the Filipino ones, so I took that as a serious compliment. I kept the sauce for the egg rolls really simple. White vinegar, chopped garlic, and ground pepper.

Anyway, I am not posting about egg rolls, as I posted that on Seis de Mayo. Because I was making pork barbecue, I wanted to introduce something spicy, sweet, and tangy. Bring on the papaya salad. This has some intense flavors and smells so prepare yourself.

Ingredients include:

  • 1 young papaya (larger in length, green) commonly found in asian markets.
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/4 teaspoon shrimp paste (beware of the smell, but move on)
  • 3 TB of nam pla (I use the 3 crab brand)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 red thai peppers (spicy, so adjust to 1, 2, 3, or more)
  • 1 TB sugar
  • 1/2 a lime
  • Asian Green beans (optional)
  • peanuts (optional)

First peel the papaya. Once peeled, shred the papaya until thin strips. Once you have enough for your salad, add garlic, shrimp paste, tomatoes, beans, and thai peppers to a mortar and pound with a wooden pestle (I purchased both mortar and pestle at an asian market for six dollars). Do not pound too hard as you really just want to bring out the juices of the bean and tomatoes.

Add the papaya, fish sauce, peanuts, and sugar into the mortar and begin to use your pestle and a large spoon and begin to toss and mix. Transfer to serving plate and eat with rice, sticky rice, or fork and chopsticks. This dish brings great flavors, maybe not meant for everyone (most people at the table could not handle the intensity of the thai peppers, so adjust to your liking), however is great with barbecue.