Here is a list of the ingredients you need to make a traditional Thai green papaya salad som tum:
- 1 large green papaya
- 1-2 cups of shredded carrots
- 1-2 cups of shredded red cabbage
- 3 Tbsp fish sauce
- 3 Tbsp palm sugar
- 2 Thai chili
- 1 Lime
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 5-10 cherry tomatoes
- 1-2 cups of green beans (I left this out)
- 2 Tbsp dried shrimp (I left this out)
- 1/2 cup of chopped peanuts ((I left this out))
I left out a few ingredients in my demo because I was making this for my wife and this is how she likes it.
Your first step should be making the Som Tum sauce. Ideally you will want to use a morder and pestle to smash the ingredients together, but worst case you can also use a food processor.
First, smash the garlic and Thai chili together to release all of the flavor from within.
Next, add in the palm sugar, fish sauce, lime juice. Make sure to smash the palm sugar until it mixes with all of the other ingredients.
Now comes the hard part, pealing the green papaya and cutting it all into the tiny little shreds that you need to make up the body of this salad. If you like you can use a peeler, but I find that my chef knife does a better job. Just be careful, only due this if you are comfortable with a chef’s knife.
To use a knife, just cut the bottom so it sits flat, then in a downward carving motion, shave off the outer dark green skin (see picture above).
Once you have the papaya pealed, now you have to hack at the papaya to remove the strips that you want.
Using a chef knife, hack into the papaya to create parallel lines that run the length of the papaya. Be very careful not to cut yourself, I like to keep the papaya on the cutting board and I only focus on one half of the papaya, so my other hand can hold the other side.
Now just take your knife and cut across those lines so shave off little strips of papaya. Repeat this process all over the papaya until you start to reach the empty center.
As you shave off more strips of papaya, feel the papaya and see if the skin is getting softer or if it is still hard. You will be able to tell how deep you should keep cutting because once you go too deep you will be able to poke your finger into the empty center (picture above). This is when you stop cutting that part of the papaya.
Once you have your papaya strips just add in the shredded carrots, shredded cabbage and the Som Tum sauce that you made earlier. Mix it all up well to evenly coat the ingredients with Som Tum sauce. Let the salad marinade for a while, ideally overnight, but at least an hour at minimum. Serve chilled or at room temperature.