Spicy Green Papaya Salad (som tum or som tam) is a popular dish from the North Eastern part of Thailand (the largely rural Isan region) that combines spicy, sour and sweet flavours to make a classic dish. It is often served alongside barbecue or grilled chicken and a portion of sticky rice. See also the glossary entry for Green Papaya Salad and Tam Mak Hoong – Spicy Lao Green Papaya Salad.
- 12 chillies, each cut into 3-4 segments
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled and cut each into 2-3 pieces
- 2 tablespoons small dried shrimp
- 4 cups unripe green papaya, peeled, julienned in strips 5 - 7cm long and 3mm thick
- 1 cup green beans, cut into 4cm long segments
- 1 medium carrot, julienned <em>(optional)</em>
- ¼ cup tamarind juice
- juice of 2-3 limes, to taste
- 2½ tablespoons fish sauce, to taste
- 2½ tablespoons palm sugar, dissolved with 1 tablespoon water into a thick syrup (use as needed)
- 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
- ¼ cup chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
- Prepare the ingredients as indicated. Make tamarind juice by starting with 1 tablespoon compressed tamarind in ½ cup of warm water. Work the tamarind with your fingers to dissolve the soft fruit; gather up remaining undissolved pulp, squeeze to extract juice and discard. Add more tamarind or water as necessary to make ¼ cup of concentrate <em>(make to the consistency of fruit juice)</em>.
- Divide the ingredients into two batches and make each batch as follows. Using a large mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and chillies to a paste. Add the dried shrimp and beans and pound to bruise. Follow with the green papaya and carrot. Stir well with a spoon and pound to bruise the vegetables so that they absorb the heat and flavour of the chillies and garlic.
- Add the tamarind and lime juice, fish sauce and palm sugar. Stir and pound a bit more to blend the vegetables with the flavourings and seasonings. Taste and adjust flavours to the desired hot-sour-sweet-and-salty combination. Then add the tomato pieces, stir and bruise lightly to blend in with the rest of the salad. Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with peanuts.