Som Ta – Green Papaya Salad and a South Asian-Inspired Blog Hop

When Liz and I saw green papayas at Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market, I knew two things: That I had to have one, and that I would make Som Ta (Thai Green Papaya Salad) with it. Although I have yet to visit Thailand (it’s on the top of my massive travel bucket list!), this salad is one of my favorite things to order at Thai restaurants. Fresh, shredded green papaya is tossed with tomatoes, string beans, chili pepper, and a sweet and savory dressing for an insanely addictive starter or side.

Green Papaya  ~

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Green papayas are simply unripe (a fact that should have been obvious to me but wasn’t) so they are crunchier and tarter than their ripe counterparts. Pick a green papaya that is quite firm as it will be shredded and no, ripe red papaya cannot be substituted in this salad. They may as well be two different fruits. In fact, I much prefer both the texture and flavor of green papayas to red ones, as much as I typically adore tropical fruit.

My recipe, while it tasted completely authentic to me, is a bit of a bastardization. The name of the dish translates to “pounded papaya” and rather than mash everything together with a mortar and pestle I simply used a wooden spoon to bruise it. I also used brown sugar instead of palm sugar, omitted dried shrimp, and added a dash of chili oil for some extra heat. For a really sensational tutorial and recipe check out this one over at She Simmers.

Som Ta (Green Papaya Salad) ~

This is one delicious salad. The fish sauce and lime juice mean that there’s plenty of acidity and even a bit of lip-puckering sour/savory action. The papaya with cherry tomatoes and string beans is refreshing and full of wonderful, crunchy textures. It’s perfect for this time of year and is even better the next day since all the ingredients are really able to stand up to the dressing. I made a whole Thai-inspired meal to go with this, but it would be an incredible side for grilled meats – it would make a show-stopping addition to a barbecue or potluck.

5.0 from 5 reviews
Som Ta – Green Papaya Salad
Prep Time
Total Time
Som Ta (Thai Green Papaya Salad) is a flavorful and refreshing salad that goes just as well with coconut curry as with grilled chicken.
Recipe Type: Salad
Yield: 4 servings
  • 1 large green papaya (about 2 pounds/1 kilo), peeled, seeded, and shredded
  • 8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 ounces string beans, trimmed and cut in thirds
  • 1 small red hot chili pepper, sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (omit if vegetarian)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Dash of chili oil (optional)
  • ½ cup crushed peanuts
  1. Put the papaya, tomatoes, string beans, and chili pepper in a large bowl and toss with a wooden spoon, pressing down to bruise the ingredients slightly.
  2. Put the lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, brown sugar, lime zest, and chili oil, if using, in a bowl and whisk together to combine.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to thoroughly combine.
  4. Top with crushed peanuts and serve.
Gluten free (just double check the fish sauce) If you omit the fish sauce (just use a little salt instead) then the salad is Parve, Vegetarian, and Vegan

28 thoughts on “Som Ta – Green Papaya Salad and a South Asian-Inspired Blog Hop

  1. Heather @girlichef

    I have never tried green papaya. Every time I see it used in a dish or mentioned, I want to, though! I’m still on the look-out for one -since they’re not grown in my area =(… This salad sounds like a treat!

  2. Terra

    I was just asking about green mangos, now I need to try green papayas:-) This looks fresh, and gorgeous! Beautiful, Hugs, Terra

  3. Diana

    I love green papaya salad! It’s such a crisp and refreshing starter, esp. if the rest of your meal packs more heat, as Thai food can often can!

  4. mjskit

    I’ve never worked with green papaya, probably because I LOVE a juicy ripe papaya. It does look like it makes a wonderfully tasty salad, but I have no idea of the flavor. Guess it’s time to find out. 🙂

  5. Sara

    Looks good! I’m afraid you may have forgotten a letter in the name of this dish, though. There is an “m” at the end, making it “Som Tam.” There is a variation that a few shops on my side of Bangkok make, which includes various fruits such as rose apple, pineapple, and dragonfruit as well. You should look it up – it is also delicious! 🙂

  6. Hannah

    Green Papaya Salad is my absolute favorite – I could easily eat it everyday! We hosted an exchange student from Thailand many years ago and she is an incredible cook. She introduced us to this salad, as well as an amazing array of other Thai dishes. We were quite spoiled. Your Green Papaya Salad looks beautiful and you’ve inspired me to make it for dinner tonight!

  7. Eha

    Living in Australia where Asian/local fusion cooking is a daily occurrence I too both love this salad and have collected quite a few recipes. Have never quite matched the interesting versions I have been offered in Thailand, especially as street food but . . . Shall happily try your recipe – thank you for it 🙂 !

  8. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    We always order green papaya salad at Thai restaurant and this looks very refreshing and delicious! I’ve never bought green papaya before or even try to make it at home. Now I got this awesome recipe thanks to you!!! 😉

  9. Raymund

    What a coincidence I made this one last Friday, we had a contest in our Team Building and its like Masterchef, this was one of the dishes I presented

  10. kitchenriffs

    Great job! I almost never cook with papayas (green or otherwise) — too many recipes to do, too little time! But I should find time for this — it looks spectacular. Thanks!

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