The firm and crisp flesh of an unripe green papaya makes an ideal vegetable for this delicious Thai salad. Papayas are cheap and plentiful in tropical countries, especially so in Thailand and itinerant som tam vendors are a common sight there. They have to be dressed just before serving as with most salads.
- 200g/7 oz or half an unripe green papaya 2 carrots peeled and cut into thin julienne strips
- 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts, crushed
- 50g/2oz cherry or baby plum tomatoes, halved
- 25g/1 oz fine Kenyan or green beans, thinly sliced
- 25g/1 oz or 1 tablespoon dried shrimps, soaked into ½ cup of warm water to soften
- 4-5 bird’s eye chillies
- 1 clove garlic (optional)
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp Demerara sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (to taste)
Peel the outer green skin off the papaya. Cut it into half and remove the tiny white seeds. Cut into long julienne strips using either a mandolin or a potato peeler, or the coarse grater on your food processor.
Using a pestle and mortar, crush the chillies and garlic. Add the green beens and pound to bruise. Add softened dried shrimps and pound together with the beans and chilli mixture. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Add dressing ingredients and finally the cherry tomatoes and grated carrots and green papayas. Mix well.
Add crushed roasted peanuts and mix again. Serve immediately on a bed of lettuce and sprinkle another tablespoonful of chopped nuts to garnish.
Serves 4-6 as part of a main course or starters.