Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

Appetizers, Salads

Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

When it comes to dinner I don’t often cook. I know that may seem a little crazy but it’s actually not the cooking that deters me, it’s the dang cleaning, man. I feel like I spend at least 75% of my life cleaning stuff. And things are still dirty! So, yeah when it comes to weeknight meals I don’t always cook.

My recent obsession is this restaurant in Los Angeles’ Thai Town called Pa Ord. It’s just one of those restaurants that fits the bill when it comes to price (it’s way cheap), delicious and interesting and somewhat close by (very important in LA #traffic). And every time I go it’s the same: one Tom Yum Gai (it’s spicy, incredible and somewhat healthy), sometimes a Fried Rice with holy basil and crispy pork and a green papaya salad. Always a green papaya salad.

Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

That obsession lead me to trying my own hand at it a few weeks ago for Memorial Day and omg was it amazing. So simple, too. Not every salad has the ability to be thrown together and then refrigerated for a few hours until you need it–this is really awesome for things like bbqs and summa-time gathers. Actually, letting it sit so everything can marry is preferred.

Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

The dressing is a mix of fish sauce, lime juice, a little honey, bird’s eye chili sugar and garlic. It’s so amazing. The entire salad marinates for at least 3 hours. At least! Over this time it’ll get spicier more flavorful and everything will just come together, so don’t worry if you taste it at first and don’t get it–it’ll get there. After the 3 hours i do a taste test and adjust stuff according to taste. I add a dash more of fish sauce, a dash of salt, a squeeze of lime. The measurements below tell you what I was happy with but feel free to add more lime juice, more salt, more fish sauce, etc.

The tomatoes and green beans really give it a beautiful color and it’s refreshing while being flavorful with a major kick to it.

Oh and a few of you have asked where one can find a green papaya. I bought mine at an Asian super market. If one is close by, I’d suggest going there for the majority of the products below–the produce is usually cheaper, as is the fish sauce.

Typically there’s dried crab or dried shrimp, but for my party and for this post, I skipped it. But if you want to give it a go, doooo it!

Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

Serving Size: 4 (about 6 cups of salad)



  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3-4 limes
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 4 bird's eye, Thai chilies, stems discarded and diced


  • 10 green beans, sliced in half
  • 4 cups julienned papaya
  • 7 cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced cilantro
  • 2 tablespoon crushed peanuts
  • 2 green onions, sliced


  • To a small bowl, mix together the honey, sugar, garlic, juice from 3 limes, fish sauce and thai chilies. Mix and set aside.
  • Set a small pot of water over high heat. When it reaches a boil, add the green beans and cook for 5 minutes, until bright green. Remove and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Give them a dry with paper towels and transfer them to a medium bowl. Add the julienned papaya, tomatoes, cilantro and peanuts. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until thoroughly coated. Wrap the bowl in plastic and transfer to the refrigerator and allow to marinate for 2 hours or so or up to one day. Note: the longer you allow it to sit, the spicier it will be so just be sure to check at the 1 hour mark to make sure it's not getting too spicy. If it's at the perfect point, feel free to remove the chilies if you're going to serve much later.
  • Just before serving, I adjusted the flavors a big. I added a few pinches of salt, the juice from one more lime and a dash more of fish sauce. Do the same to your liking! Top with green onions and serve.
Nutrition Facts
Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam)
Amount Per Serving (4 g)
Calories 0
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @acozykitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #acozykitchen
Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like


Leave a Reply

  • Reply Carina June 17, 2013 at 1:25 am

    This look divine! Healthy too πŸ™‚


  • Reply Elisa @ Insalata di Sillabe June 17, 2013 at 2:50 am

    This salad truly looks soooo good and refreshing! You actually made me hungry! I’m a huge salad-lover and am always looking for new recipes to try, so be sure that I’ll be making this as soon as possible…today’s dinner maybe?!

    xo, Elisa

  • Reply Maria June 17, 2013 at 2:53 am

    Beautiful! One thing, though: the fish sauce is not suitable for vegetarians.
    So this is not a vegetarian salad.
    One could substitute the fish sauce, but that would be a shame since it adds SO much flavour.
    I’ll go ahead and use fish sauce and add the dried shrimp as well.
    But I will not serve this to vegetarian friends.
    I got in trouble once after feeding them beautifully hot curried green beans using shrimp paste as an ingredient. First they loved it. Then they hated me. It wasn’t fun. They warned me: shrimp paste and fish sauce= not vegetarian, ‘m kay?


    An omnivore reader

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme June 17, 2013 at 9:12 am

      You’re totally right. I’m not so good at being vegetarian. πŸ˜‰

  • Reply Tieghan June 17, 2013 at 5:26 am

    Look so pretty and sounds delicious!

  • Reply Marie @ Little Kitchie June 17, 2013 at 5:26 am

    SUCH a pretty salad, and that dressing sounds a.mazing.

  • Reply amy @southern sweets and eats June 17, 2013 at 5:35 am

    Sounds super yummy! I just made a slaw with a dressing kinda like this and it was fabulous. I love green papaya, so maybe next time….

  • Reply Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) June 17, 2013 at 5:55 am

    This looks quite amazing, if I do say so myself! Green Papaya salad is my FAVORITE thing to order at Thai/Vietnamese restaurants. All of the flavors are so balanced and delicious. I would totally eat this for breakfast πŸ™‚

  • Reply Bev @ Bev Cooks June 17, 2013 at 5:56 am

    Luuu-huuuuuuv this.

  • Reply Tina June 17, 2013 at 6:18 am

    Seriously I hate the clean up too. I know the feeling

    • Reply tina June 18, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      for some reason some of my comment was deleted but no biggie πŸ™‚

      i don’t like fish sauce, can you think of what else i can substitute? but isn’t that the whole point of the dressing. i know so silly

      • Reply Adrianna Adarme June 18, 2013 at 12:44 pm


        Hmm…it sort of is. But I honestly bet it’d still be delicious minus the fish sauce. Lime juice, honey and salt is a good combo. Give it a whirl and let me know.

  • Reply petal and plume June 17, 2013 at 9:21 am

    so incredible wonderful and unique. the taste without the travel!

  • Reply Kait @ChickadeeSays June 17, 2013 at 10:38 am

    This looks incredible. I may have to go without the chilis because I am a baby when it comes to spice but this looks so fresh!

    xx Kait

  • Reply Kiran @ June 17, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    LOVE green papaya salad!! Bursting with layers of delicious flavors!

  • Reply Jayne June 17, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    We love our som tams! I like the papaya pieces to be super thin and super pucker-worthy. And my mom must have hers with lots and lots of crushed peanuts. I’ve seen some places using cashews. Quite a nice rich contrast with the tart salad. Thailand is so near us that we get quite a variation. Ginger flower (bunga kantan) was in one incarnation and it was super awesome.

  • Reply celyn June 18, 2013 at 5:08 am

    oh wow this looks delicious! thanks for sharing the recipe!

  • Reply Stella June 18, 2013 at 6:00 am

    I can’t see your pictures any more. Do you think it is my browser or something. I think it has been a couple of weeks since I was able to see them. I’ve been reading the posts too and a few of them, I thought man, that sounds SO good, I wish I could see the picture!!

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme June 18, 2013 at 9:14 am

      Whoa! So strange. What browser are you using?

      • Reply Stella June 19, 2013 at 12:42 pm

        Internet Explorer. Not sure which version. I don’t have any issues with any other blogs I read and never used to with this one until a couple of weeks ago. Odd!

        • Reply Adrianna Adarme June 19, 2013 at 1:42 pm

          Hmm…you know a few weeks ago I updated my WordPress so that could be it. So strange though. I just looked at the blog on Chrome, Firefox and Safari and it all shows up for me. I’m not sure what to do! πŸ™

  • Reply Lorna June 18, 2013 at 10:19 am

    This looks amazing! Everyone raves about papaya salad, I need to give it a go!

    Lorna | Studs and Dreams xx

  • Reply Papaya Bars June 19, 2013 at 12:00 am

    […] and was pleasantly surprised to find that they were carrying green papayas. I happily bought one, attempted to make this salad, only to be stalled when I cut into the dang “green papaya” to learn that it was in […]

  • Reply Christina @ The Beautiful Balance June 21, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    Oh, I can only imagine how incredible this tastes with those types of flavors combined! Sweet and spicy green papaya? I’m in love πŸ™‚

  • Reply Jamie @lifelovelemons June 22, 2013 at 3:13 am

    Gorgeous! What a unique and yummy combination of flavors!

  • Reply Kocinera June 23, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    That salad looks so fresh and yummy! Perfect for summertime.

  • Reply Dana June 24, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Som Tam is so good! I’ve never thought to make it at home before, I just eat it at my favourite Thai restaurants.

    I’m going to have to head to my Asian grocer and see if I can get my hands on a green papaya.

  • Reply Sophie July 3, 2013 at 4:04 am

    MMMMMM,….A lovely salad! I love that yummy dressing too!

  • Reply ball February 3, 2014 at 1:14 am

    Thank you for share.I like to eat more papaya.