Som Tam (Spicy Papaya Salad), a Thai Favorite
Som Tam comes from the northeastern “Isaan” region of Thailand which is near the border of Laos. Residents eat this meal daily for lunch or dinner. It is usually accompanied by “Gai Yang” – barbequed chicken or pork and some condiments: cucumber, lettuce, and green beans. Som Tam Thai has peanuts, and dried baby shrimp. Som Tam is very delicious and my favorite Thai food! My husband has also grown to like it – he says it’s addictive.
Som Tam Recipe
Som Tam Preparation
2 cups coarsely graded unripe Papaya
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1-4 small red or green chilis
(in Isaan we often use 10 or more!)
2 garlic cloves
1 long squirt of fish sauce
1 lemon/lime (minao in Thai)
1/4 cup yardlong beans (green beans) if you wish
Dash of salt, sugar to preference (1 tsp)
Thai Som Tam Mixing Instructions:
1. Combine chili peppers, garlic, tomatoes, salt, sugar, with mortar and pestle. The sound of pounding the ingredients makes a bpok bpok noise. Some people call som tam, “Bpok Bpok”! Some parents in Thailand name their kid Bpok!
2. Squirt in some fish oil and squeeze the lemon juice into the mix. Add the papaya in small groups to make sure it mixes well.
When mixed thoroughly serve in a bowl. Rice is always served with this – the som tam is eaten with rice to take the spice out of it a bit, and just because Thai people eat LOTS of rice! Sticky rice (steamed rice) is the preferred rice in Isaan, but you can use boiled white Jasmine rice.
This video is of a night market close to Teung C. Muang park in Ubon Ratchathani in the northeast of Thailand (Isaan region). This woman is my favorite som tam maker. You can see her squeezing the “minao” (lemon/lime) and adding the papaya to the mortar and pestle. She makes HUNDREDS of these dishes every day!
Click here to watch how to make Som Tam video.